Observations from Patriots OTAs

Observations from Patriots OTAs
May 24, 2012, 6:20 pm
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FOXBORO -- A few notes from watching New England's first OTA session open to media.

The shirts-and-shorts session began with stretching. Offense wore blue and defense wore grey. As noted on Tuesday, the players did not have jerseys on, but numbers could be spied on shorts and helmets.

I didn't see Sebastian Vollmer, Daniel Fells, Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Tracy White, Myron Pryor, Anthony Gonzalez, or Jeremy Ebert while scanning the practice field. It's possible any or all showed up after reporters left the session.

Rob Gronkowski was seen jogging and working with trainers. He was joined by Brandon Spikes, who had offseason surgery on his right knee; Matt Slater, who might have tweaked something during the session, and Nate Ebner, who spent time on a stationary bike during rookie camp because of an unknown injury. Spikes looked okay, running at one point on a harness (it does look as weird as it sounds).

The team then broke apart for positional work. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia could be heard hollering at the offensive line as the guys did some one-on-one work. Nate Solder got a few snaps at left tackle, as expected in the post-Matt Light era. Elsewhere on the line, Robert Gallery stood in as left guard for Mankins and Ryan Wendell played right guard for Waters. Also of note on the O-line, Dan Connolly was first in at center with long-time starter Dan Koppen behind him. More on that later . . .

The trio of quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, and Brian Hoyer -- did some passing drills with a rotating group of receivers, backs, and tight ends. At one point, Brady was surrounded by a new-look group: Donte' Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Aaron Hernandez, Chad Ochocinco, and Joseph Addai on his right.

Despite the targets, backup Ryan Mallett struggled with accuracy on a few balls. He followed up a sweet bomb to Stallworth with an ugly grounder in the slot where Welker was waiting. Mallett then missed Hernandez on the outside. There was some sloppiness all around, though.

Julian Edelman worked with the offense for as long as I could see. He also played special teams as a punt returner (as did Deion Branch and Wes Welker).

Interesting sight: Defensive end Alex Silvestro had to act as a tight end. With Gronkowski unavailable for positional work and Daniel Fells absent (during the media portion, keep in mind), Silvestro was -- at least for today -- the handiest replacement.

Got a look at Shane Vereen and rookie Brandon Bolden during running back drills. All the players were tasked with basic stuff -- keeping their weight over their feet and selling the move without going too hard. From what I could see, everybody had soft hands. Bolden dug in too hard on one run, but corrected the next time out and was complimented. Second-year back Stevan Ridley had nice quickness today.

During 7-on-7, Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington started at cornerback. Patrick Chung and free agent acquisition Steve Gregory were the safeties.