Patriots Training Camp Notes 8/9

Foxborough, Mass - The final day of training camp for the Patriots before their first big test was mostly an exercise in educating the young players. A few veterans made their mark in practice as they prepared to face the Falcons on Friday. News and notes from inside Patriots training camp.

News:

News for the day was fallout from the Tedy Bruschi announcement that the linebacker would not be available for the preseason, possibly longer. Bruschi was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken bone in his wrist. The veteran linebacker was the "hot Topic" at camp as members of the media attempted to ply more information out of Bruschi's teammates.

Linebacker Mike Vrabel let out an audible groan as a member of the team's media relations' staff cajoled him to speak to a group of eager reporters.

"I'd say everybody's got the standard Tedy Bruschi line," Mike Vrabel told the group of reporters looking for Vrabel's take on Bruschi's injury. "He's going to be out for the preseason and that's where we're going to leave it."

Playing without Bruschi draws comparisons to the same time last year when Bruschi was sidelined by the aftereffects of a mild stroke. He was also diagnosed with a tiny hole in his heart that required surgery. After surgery and an extensive rehab regimen, Bruschi began the 2005 season on the PUP list. He returned to the field week 8 against the Bills.

Bruschi is reportedly hoping to make it back in time to play against the Bills in the season opener, but his injury may force him to miss six weeks or more. Should that be the case, Bruschi's return could be sometime around the third or fourth week of the season.

Notes:

-- Defensive lineman Jarvis Green and tight end Daniel Graham were back for practice. Green had missed extensive time in camp after suffering from an unknown ailment. Graham was without the red "non-contact" jersey. Both players looked well enough to practice with light contact.

-- Fullback Garrett Mills was back on the field as well. Mills figures to be in the mix if RB Patrick Pass cannot go. With a little under three weeks before the first round of roster cuts, it's important for Mills to make a good impression while he has the opportunity. He had an inconsistent minicamp, so the nest couple of weeks are imperative for him to show the Patriots that their investment in him in the fourth-round of the 2006 Draft was not wasted.

-- Practice was held in shorts and helmets. Belichick explained that it was the team's typical pre-game practice.

"It is kind of a Friday practice, just reviewing a lot of things," Belichick said. "[We're] trying to get the situations right and just get everybody prepared that is going to play in the game so that they'll be able to go out there and execute to their best and at least have an opportunity to have worked the stuff in practice."

The defensive backs had a decent outing with cornerback Asante Samuel making a strong case to retain his starting job with the play of the day -- a leaping interception on a Matt Cassel pass. Ellis Hobbs also managed to make an interception in the early going.

The competition for third string quarterback may come down to no one as both Corey Bramlet and Todd Mortenson managed to throw nearly as many interceptions as good passes in the late practice session. The linebackers participated in the feeding frenzy for the ball with both Freddie Roach and Eric Alexander making interceptions.

Each interception thrown by the young quarterbacks initiated a wave of commentary from the media tent. "Was it 10 or 6 this time?" Those watching the performance understood that the two quarterbacks didn't do themselves any favors come time for roster cuts.

-- WRs Kelvin Kight and Keron Henry both made nice catches during practice. Eddie Berlin was the team's latest free agent addition to the receiving corps, although he has not had the same opportunities as Henry and Kight to make spectacular catches in camp.

WR Keron Henry makes a leaping grab over DB Ellis Hobbs at Patriots training camp August 9, 2006. (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

 

-- Cornerback Hank Poteat continued to make a case for a roster spot with solid coverage in pass defense and another interception. Poteat joined the Patriots late in the 2004 season when the team suffered a rash of injuries to the defensive secondary. He was released in the off-season, and then signed with the team when Tedy Bruschi returned in 2005. Poteat considers every practice and every game important.

"Whenever you're out and not playing, you sit back and refocus," Poteat said of the time he wasn't with the team during the 2005 season. "You never know when you might be back in that situation again, so you play every game as if it were your last game."

Poteat is looking forward to Friday's outing against the Falcons. "I'm excited to play every football game that I can," he said. "When you get back, you just appreciate every opportunity you have to play football."

DB Hank Poteat during coverage drillss at Patriots training camp August 9, 2006. (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

 

-- Eddie Berlin continued to work his way into the mix at wide receiver during both sessions. Berlin was signed early in the week and felt that he had a lot of work to do to catch up.

"I'm trying to learn the offense, trying to get the rust off," Berlin said. "My head's swimming a little bit. It's going to take a few days, but I feel good for the most part."

-- Linebacker Mike Vrabel spent time working with the offense at the tight end position. Vrabel displayed the athleticism and solid hands that enabled him to make three touchdown catches last season. One of his most impressive catches came against the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, a play that has been shown on many highlight reels.

-- One more visitor to camp made his presence known at Patriots training camp. Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon was on the field for the team's late practice. He spoke with head coach Bill Belichick as the two watched team drills.

-- Also making an appearance at practice was Patriots owner Robert Kraft who signed autographs for fans. Kraft spoke with a few reporters at the end of practice to discuss the league's choice of Roger Goodell.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft looks to fans shouting his name for autographs at Patriots training camp August 9, 2006. (Photo Kevin Saleeba / PatriotsInsider.com)

 

-- Kicker Stephen Gostkowski and punter John Miller handed out some practice footballs to the fans. Miller walked over to the sideline and handed one ball to a 2-3 year old, while tossing another to a young boy who looked to be about 5. Gostkowski tossed his only ball to a group of young teens who eagerly lunged for the prized possession.

-- Hank Poteat, Bam Childress and Vernell Brown spent time returing punts. Laurence Maroney, Ellis Hobbs, Bam Childress, Willie Andrews, and Kevin Faulk manned the kick return duties.

-- Not on the field for practice were WRs John Stone (knee/leg) and Chad Jackson (hamstring); LBs Tedy Bruschi (Wrist) and Chad Brown (Wrist/hand); DL Marquise Hill (leg). OL Nick Kaczur (shoulder) and RB Patrick Pass (leg) remained on the PUP list. DB Ray Ventrone, RB Earl Charles and WR Zuriel Smith have missed all of camp so far.

 

Read about thoughts and coverage of camp in the Patriots Insider blog.

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