Camp Quick Hits: Intensity Heightens

FOXBORO, Mass. – You could immediately see there must be a real opponent this week, because the Patriots practice Tuesday afternoon was a whole new ballgame with serious prep for the Tampa Bay Bucs preseason game on Friday.

Day 11: Training camp Quick Hits Tuesday 8/7
Afternoon practice

Conditions: It was steamy hot and a classic dog day of August, with another big crowd to boot.

Missing: Randy Moss and Asante Samuel.

Sightings: Red Sox PA Announcer Carl Beane, the Voice of Fenway Park.

Tempo: Easily the most intense and enthusiastic practice so far this camp.

Happy Ending
Tedy Bruschi showed why he returned to the game when he was enthusiastically exhorting the crowd with his hands after Mike Vrabel ended practice with an interception, sending the defense into an emotional frenzy. Nice to see this genuine competitive fire from Tedy during an early August practice.

Picked Apart
Preceding Vrabel's interception of Brady, the defense dominated the ending of yesterday's practice. Rookie Mike Richardson from Notre Dame had a nice interception in the end zone, late in the day. Another spectacular INT came from James Sanders winning a jump ball with his left hand. First pick Brandon Meriweather just missed a pick, diving for a deflection that popped up in the air.
Welcome to the NFL

Speaking of interceptions, rookie quarterback Matt Gutierrez had his "Welcome to the NFL" moment when he threw three interceptions during just a handful of plays, including two out of three. One was by the veteran Bruschi, in what was an identical play to his famous "kneeling in the snow" pick against the Dolphins, only this was on the opposite side of the field. Another interception was by rookie hopeful Gemara Williams out of Buffalo.
Brady busy

Before the defense imposed its will to end the day, Tom Brady had a majority of the reps, probably taking close to 50 snaps in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Although he threw some picks near the end, he aired it out nicely earlier, at one point completing about 8 out of 10 during a 10-play segment, some of them 50-plus yards in the air.

Trademark Distribution
Brady, Esquire's new best dressed man in the world, was displaying his trademark distribution of the ball to various receivers, including Garrett Mills with three receptions, Reche Caldwell with a beautiful reaching catch over the middle on a Brady bullet, Sammy Morris making two impressive two-handed over the shoulder catches, Bam Childress hauling in three in a row at one point, Jabar Gaffney snatching three passes, and other receptions by Kelley Washington, Kevin Faulk, Heath Evans, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth.

Successful Scramble
On the QB front, Matt Cassel showed his athleticism with a beautiful scramble towards the tail end of practice.

Gators at Play
The Florida Gator bonds run deep, as evidenced by Reche Caldwell playfully sticking his smiling face into the middle of multiple media interviewing former Gainesville teammate Jabar Gaffney. This tandem, you may remember, were the two starting receivers for the Patriots during last year's postseason.

Kicking it Up
Coach Bill Belichick was again hand-on during kickoff drills featuring Larry Izzo in his customary middle position, many of which were caught by Bam Childress as the featured return man deep in the middle. In addition to kickoffs, Stephen Gostkowski was more consistent on the field goal front, splitting the uprights from 50-plus yards for the second day in a row.

John Ingoldsby has covered the New England Patriots for various publications the past 13 years. He started covering the NFL for newspapers in the 1970s. John is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. You can find him on the Patriots Insider boards under the handle Rudiee.

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