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training camp: Monday afternoon notes

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  • SEAN
    Patriots fans received a big surprise on Monday with the return of several key players. Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Dan Koppen, Randall Gay and Johnathan
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 7, 2006
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      Patriots fans received a big surprise on Monday with the return of
      several key players. Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Dan Koppen,
      Randall Gay and Johnathan Sullivan were activated off the physically
      unable to perform list.

      gay.jpg> Evidently a weekend away from the practice fields injected some
      new life into the Patriots.

      When the team convened for its scheduled workout Monday afternoon,
      several injured players managed to return to work for the first time
      this summer. Five players were activated from the physically unable to
      perform list – Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, Dan Koppen, Randall
      Gay and Johnathan Sullivan. That leaves just Patrick Pass and Nick
      Kaczur on PUP and those are the only two players still eligible to open
      the regular season on that list.

      Harrison's appearance was a surprise given the severity of the knee
      injury he suffered in Pittsburgh last September. He tore three ligaments
      in his left knee and has been rehabbing ever since. Aside from an
      appearance at the team's annual Charitable Foundation Golf
      Tournament – where he won the long drive competition incidentally
      – Harrison hadn't taken part in any team-related activities, at
      least not on the field.

      "It feels really good. All things considered, it's been a long
      time," Harrison said. "I never doubted that I'd be back. I
      knew you guys doubted it, but that really served as motivation."

      on_tc9_use.jpg> Harrison was dressed in full pads and took part in all
      drills while sporting a black brace on his left knee. While he took part
      in all the drills, he did appear to be limited slightly, running
      gingerly at times, especially when slowing down and cutting.

      When Harrison took his spot at safety during a seven-on-seven drill, he
      was greeted with a nice applause from the crowd. Just before the first
      play, one enthusiastic fan shouted, "Pop him, Rodney."

      "It was definitely emotional, very much so," Harrison said.
      "There were a lot of different feelings going through my body. But
      it felt good to be back in that huddle. Tom [Brady] gave me a big smack
      and said, `I'm going to burn you' and I just said,
      `Bring it on.'"

      Harrison wouldn't say when he would be ready for a full workload in
      terms of contact but just seeing him on the field was a big lift for the
      entire team. Further adding to that excitement was the return of Daniel
      Graham, who had yet to practice this summer. Graham was in uniform
      wearing a red non-contact jersey, and linebacker Monty Beisel returned
      after missing the previous two days of practice.

      Koppen, who tore his rotator cuff last November in Miami, was also
      thrilled just to be back in uniform. "I think we pretty much cleared
      out the training room today," he joked. "We're at square
      one. This is the first time I've put pads on in nine months."

      Who's hot: The training staff – Any day you get the likes of
      Harrison, Seymour, Koppen and Graham back from serious injuries has to
      be considered a good one for the medical personnel. Getting Harrison
      back on the field well before most people expected is an impressive

      Who's not: Ellis Hobbs – The second-year corner had trouble
      during a one-on-one drill against the wide receivers. Keron Henry, Reche
      Caldwell and Troy Brown got the best of him on consecutive reps during
      the drill, with Caldwell in particular beating him by a wide margin with
      a quick inside slant.

      Play of the day: During a seven-on-seven drill Tom Brady hooked up with
      John Stone for a big play. Stone ran a deep crossing route and ran away
      from Antwain Spann before grabbing Brady's pass and turning upfield
      for the would-be touchdown.

      Role call

      r_tc9.jpg> Sullivan had yet to practice this summer after reportedly
      failing the conditioning run the day before camp opened July 28. Despite
      the late start Head Coach Bill Belichick said the former No. 1 draft
      pick of the Saints would get every opportunity to establish a role for

      "We'll evaluate him on what we see," Belichick said. "I
      can't really worry about what happened somewhere else. Every player
      is evaluated on what his performance is. We talk to every player about
      their role and what we expect them to do, how we're going to do it
      and the things they need to work on. He hasn't been on the field so
      far in training camp so it's hard to evaluate where that is."

      Sullivan spent most if not all of his time during mini-camp working at
      nose tackle backing up Vince Wilfork and he resumed that role today. He
      rotated in with a group that included Le Kevin Smith and Santonio

      Call to the Hall

      With this year's Hall of Fame class freshly enshrined, Belichick was
      asked about his impressions of the weekend's activities. One of his
      former players, linebacker Harry Carson, was among the group that was
      honored and Belichick was pleased the former leader of some great Giants
      defenses was finally recognized.

      "I caught bits and pieces of it and as always it's a very
      impressive ceremony," Belichick said. "Being with Harry for a
      good part of his career I was extremely happy for him. There were a lot
      of Giants out there and [defensive line coach] Pepper [Johnson] went out
      there to represent us. Harry deserved it."

      Known as a devout student of the game, Belichick was then asked if he
      ever pictured himself at the podium giving a speech of his own someday.
      The coach turned to a little levity at that point. "No. I just want
      to see if we can get the team to get off on the count."


      The Patriots placed safety Mel Mitchell and wide receiver Matt Shelton
      on injured reserve. Mitchell suffered a biceps injury during practice
      Aug. 3 while Shelton was shelved with a knee/groin injury. Mitchell
      signed as a free agent during the offseason and was expected to be one
      of the team's core special teams players, while Shelton was an
      undrafted free agent looking to crack the receiving corps. … In
      addition to Kaczur and Pass, Tedy Bruschi, Chad Jackson, Jarvis Green,
      Marquise Hill and Chad Brown all missed practice while Deion Branch
      extended his holdout to 11 days. ... In his press conference before
      practice, Belichick said the team would start preparing for the Falcons
      while continuing implementing more generic aspects of their system.
      Belichick felt Atlanta's style, which is much different than New
      England's with a one-gap, zone blitzing defense and an athletic
      running quarterback and stretch-oriented running attack, provides a good
      opportunity for the team to prepare for a different set of problems.
      …Mike Vrabel took some reps at inside linebacker with Freddie Roach
      during a nine-on-seven drill where the offense was working off cards.
      … Hank Poteat, Willie Andrews, Vernell Brown and Bam Childress took
      turns returning punts from Josh Miller. Andrews appeared to be the
      smoothest handling the kicks. … The defense featured some four-man
      fronts with Ty Warren and Mike Wright lining up at end and Wilfork and
      Seymour inside at tackle.

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