Foxboro, Mass – The practice field behind Gillette Stadium looked a little fuller on Monday. Five fresh faces were practicing with the team, some for the first time since last
season, others since minicamp. The five players activated by the Patriots were; safety Rodney Harrison, defensive end Richard Seymour, defensive lineman Johnathan Sullivan, defensive back Randall Gay and center Dan Koppen.
DL Richard Seymour
The move to activate Seymour
was widely expected considering the all-pro spent time practicing with the team
during minicamp and was involved during the team's
walk through on Friday. With Seymour working his way
back into the mix at end, the Patriots now have Ty
Warren, Marquise Hill, Santonio Thomas, and Mike Wright as players who can fill the end position in the 3-4 defense the team
likes to run.
was glad to be back at camp, and felt that he needed some work to get back into
the comfort zone. "I have to work some
of the rust off and oil up the wheels a little bit and I guess I'll be alright
and ready to roll," Seymour
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Seymour took part in most of activities at
practice, although he did rotate out during many of the contact drills. Working
his way back to the starting lineup slowly would be a wise move. It appears that's what the plan is.
S Rodney Harrison
Sidelined by three torn ligaments in his left knee playing
against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 25, 2005, Harrision
had undergone an extensive offseason rehab to get
back on the field Monday.
It was something, a lot of different thoughts and feelings
and emotions going through my mind," Harrison
said of his return. "When I first stepped on the field it felt a little weird,
but once I did a couple sprints I felt at peace."
Harrison's teammates were
glad to see him back on the field. The
veteran enjoyed a warm welcome from a number of them including quarterback Tom Brady who went up to Harrison and gave him a big smack telling the good-natured defender, "I'm going to burn you." Harrison's
response? "Bring it on."
The Patriots' secondary could use a healthy Rodney Harrison
to patrol the deep center of the field and provide toughness in what many
experts labeled as a soft defense last season. While Harrison
may be back at practice, his return for the season opener is far from
He moved tentatively as if to test the knee before going
full speed. On a couple of pass plays, Harrison could be seen hustling over to the sideline to
track down the receiver. One play in
particular caught the attention of those in the media tent. Troy Brown caught a slant pass headed from
right to left. After avoiding the first would-be tackler, Brown took off down
the left sideline. Out of center field,
came Harrison. He ran down the veteran
receiver on the sideline, preventing what would have been a touchdown.
When asked about the long pass play after practice Harrison demurred. "That wasn't me. Don't put that on
me," Harrison joked. "I was on the other side
of the field and I just hustled over." Even if he's not 100% healthy, the old Rodney
was back on the field 100% in spirit.
C Dan Koppen
Koppen who had made only one brief
appearance at camp prior to his return, also activated from the PUP list by the
Patriots Monday. The 6-foot-2, 296-pound linemen was
placed on the injured reserve list on November 15, 2005 with a shoulder injury
and hadn't been able to practice since.
He was obviously anxious to return to the field.
"Probably the first time in my life I was happy to be at a
training camp practice," Koppen said of his
return. "It's good to be out with the
guys and working with them. You just feel miserable when they're out working in
the heat and hitting all day while you're just sitting back running a little
Center Russ Hochstein filled in at center while Koppen was out. Backing
up Hochstein was Billy Yates and Brian Barthelmes.
WR Matt Shelton
Matt Shelton saw his brief attempt to make it in the NFL his
rookie season come to an end on Monday.
The Patriots officially placed Shelton
on the injured reserve list with a knee/groin injury, ending the former Notre Dame product's first year. The 6-foot, 175-pound
receiver was signed by the Patriots on May 8, 2006, as an undrafted
rookie free agent.
had worked hard in camp to make the roster.
It appeared that he had gained ground on a number of the other receivers
in camp. The injury reduced an already
ailing receiver unit missing the likes of Deion
Branch (holdout) and
Chad Jackson (injury).
S Mel Mitchell
Mel Mitchell was placed on the injured reserve list Monday by
the Patriots, ending his first season as a member of the New
England defense. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound special teams ace signed
with the Patriots on April 4, 2006 as an unrestricted free agent.
Mitchell spent time at safety and on special teams for the
Patriots during minicamp and the team's training
camp. His size, speed and experience on
special teams were some of the qualities that made Mitchell so attractive to
the team. Tebucky
Jones appears to be the major benefactor of Mitchell's absence. Jones spent time participating in many of the
same drills at the same position as Mitchell.
DB Randall Gay
Randall Gay's removal from the PUP list by the Patriots Monday
allowed him to attend his first practice in nearly eight months. The 5-foot-11,
190-pound defender appeared in five games last season before being placed on
the injured reserve list with a nagging ankle injury.
Gay started in 11 of he 15 regular season games he played
his rookie season. He became the team's
starting cornerback November 7th against the Rams, holding the job
the remainder of the season. Gay also started at cornerback during the
postseason including the Patriots victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super
TE Dan Graham
TE Dan Graham was back at practice Monday after missing all
of training camp to date with a shoulder injury. Graham, talked about
how important it was to get back onto the field to establish his timing with
quarterback Tom Brady.
"I was just taking it slow, taking it one day at a time,"
Graham said of his return to the field. "I've got to get my feet wet, and get
back into the swing of things. I've got
a lot of making up to do."
Desperate for another healthy body while Graham was out,
signed 12-year veteran Walter Rasby to fill in during
drills. With Graham's return, the team
has four tight ends; third-year veteran Ben Watson, rookie David Thomas and Rasby.
Graham wore a red (non-contact) shirt at practice an
indication to the defense not to hit the player. He moved well, with little indication that he
had been nursing a shoulder still sore from offseason
Notes: WR Reche Caldwell dropped a pass
that he should have caught. Once back at the sideline, he dropped to the ground
and did ten pushups as a form of punishment.
… Rodney Harrison played deep safety on the third team reserves, also
known as the scout team with no contact. … David Thomas continued to make
impressive catches by diving or leaping for poorly thrown passes. He has made
at least one impressive catch per day on average. … WR John Stone limped off
the practice field at the end of the session with an apparent lower leg/ knee
injury. … Rodney Harrison, Daniel Graham and Ben Watson ran conditioning
sprints on the far field during practice.
After the second sprint, Tom Brady joined them for two more sets. …
Barry Gardner and Don Davis spent a good deal of time as the team's inside linebackers
during 11 on 11 drills.