Training Camp Day 11: Pats Host Saints Morning Edition
The New England Patriots played host to the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints today for joint practice sessions. The Saints will join the Pats for practice tomorrow as well (morning session only) before the two teams meet in their first preseason games of the year Thursday night. I was in attendance at the morning session and I must say that this was nice change-of-pace from the regular training camp practices I’ve been to over the past 5 years or so. You could feel the excitement in the crowd and there were some Saints fans in attendance. I could be wrong, but I feel safe saying that this practice was the most-attended practice of the summer so far, if not in the Patriots’ history. For the first time this year, the Patriots were all wearing the same jerseys, ushering in a bigger sense of unity amongst the players. Normally, the offense is in white and the defense is in blue. If you’re curious as to how the practice was structured, click here. Here are some some notes from the practice:
- Tom Brady and Saints Head Coach Sean Payton were talking on the field before everything got started. According to the Boston Herald, Payton was picking Tom’s brain about how to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Payton has not been afraid to say that he is following the Patriot Way of building a team and organization.
- Singer Jon Bon Jovi was in attendance, taking in the practice sessions from the sidelines with Bob and Jonathon Kraft.
- NFL officials were in attendance once again for practice and were throwing penalty flags and making calls during 7-on-7 and full team drills. At one point, Saints QB Drew Brees got Pats DE Mike Wright to jump offsides, which forced Wright to have to run a lap around the practice field. There were also a few flags being thrown on DB’s from both sides during the aforementioned drills.
- The running backs ran pass patterns against linebackers in one set of drills, and the running backs pretty much had their way with the linebackers on both sides.
- The Pats punted to the Saints in special teams drills. Rookie punter Zoltan Mesko struggled with his punting, shanking quite a few punts. It appeared as though he was working at directional punting when he shanked, while the standard punts looked pretty good. At one point, the Pats ran a fake punt and it looked like if it was a game situation, Patrick Chung would have scored a touchdown (though there was no live tackling).
- When it came to 7-on-7 passing work and full team offense vs. defense drills, the offenses pretty much had their way the defenses. They started the full-team drills at around midfield before moving into the red zone, approximately 10 to 15 yards away from the end zone. At midfield, the progress we have seen in the young secondary so far in camp seemed to go away as Brees was able to connect on pass after pass. When the teams moved to the red zone, the Pats defense stiffened some and made some good stops and pass break-ups.
- Tom Brady connected on a beautiful deep pass to Randy Moss, who beat double coverage from Jabari Greer and Usama Young.
- Brandon Tate, who is having a spectacular camp, also made some nice catches in tight spaces. He often lined up with the starting unit opposite Moss. A sign of things to come?
- Wes Welker participated fully in practice and moved fluidly in and out of his cuts, making some nice catches. He also absorbed some hits from the Saints defenders without a hitch, which is a great sign in his progress from ACL surgery.
- The following players missed practice this morning: Ty Warren, Nick Kaczur, Gary Guyton, Leigh Bodden, Bret Lockett, Matthew Slater, and Josh Barrett. Torry Holt, Ron Brace, and Terrence Johnson were in attendance doing rehab work on the sidelines in shorts and t-shirts.