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Today's top practice observations includes the retirement announcement from veteran wide receiver David Patten, a walkthrough practice, some focus on special teams and the competition for a top receiver spot rolls on.
David Patten's Surprising Farewell
Unexpectedly, 12 year veteran receiver David Patten announced his retirement from the National Football League. From the observations made on day two, Patten looked agile and competitive on the field. By watching some of the deep sideline passing drills, it was easy to confuse the veteran for one of the rookies. Patten caught passes cleanly and still had considerable speed.
But even with a great showing so far, Patten stated Saturday morning, "I just felt like it was time."
With that, the receiver decided to call it a career.
When asked about his thoughts on Bill Belichick and his time with the Patriots , Patten praised the organization as a whole,
"I think when you talk about Coach Belichick, he'll probably go down in history as one of the best coaches ever." Patten continued, "And the type of players that he looks for, not only does he look for tough, smart football players, but he looks for selfless players, hardworking players, players that will put themselves on the back burner for the good of the whole."
Patten served as a mentor and leader for many of the young and experienced players on the Patriots receiving group, his presence on and off the field will be missed.
A Saturday Treat: Walkthrough Practice
The Patriots got a greatly appreciated walkthrough practice for the Saturday morning session. It was early – just the fifth practice session of camp – and uncharacteristic of a Belichick run camp.
With the focus mainly on solidifying the mental foundation of the game, many players took this opportunity to relax and concentrate on the details of each snap and play. Typically the calm before the storm, the afternoon practice included full pads and contact.
Special Teams, Special Focus
The special teams department were given extra attention today as kicker Stephen Gostkowski continued to show just how he's grown as the team's kicker. Gostkowski is often seen at the beginning of practice including the crowd in some extra point kicks to warm up. Fans dash to the ball as Gostkowski sends each kick sailing clear past the goalposts and into the crowd.
Gostkowski seems to have improved his kickoff technique with increased placement efficiency and longer distance in his kicks.
Kickoff coverage was also a focus during today's special teams drills as the likes of Brandon Meriweather, Kyle Arrington and Sam Aiken were just a few of the participants.
Receivers Catch On
David Patten's retirement not only leaves a void in the leadership aspect for the receivers, but it also reduces the size of those competing for a starting roster spot.
Brandon Tate is making a solid argument as to being a top candidate for a roster spot. From making near-impossible catches on the sidelines to beating rookie Devin McCourty in coverage, the second year receiver continues to impress.
Julian Edelman dropped two catches today as several others, like Rob Gronkowski, Buddy Farnham and Randy Moss also struggled.
Training camp continues Sunday with two sessions scheduled; 9:30am and 3:45pm
Kisha Tapangan is a contributing writer for PatriotsInsider.com She also maintains her personal blog Necessary Roughness and can be found on Twitter @KishaT. Be sure to check in all camp long for regular updates by Kisha from Foxboro