training camp: Monday afternoon notes
- 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.
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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