Patriots training camp notes: Day 4

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Patriots training camp notes: Day 4

Last day of practice before the Patriots get a day off. You can get your fill of the action right here.
No Tracy White (undisclosed injury) and no Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) for Sunday's session.
Pepper Johnson kept a close eye on Brandon Spikes yet again.
OL Jamey Richard left practice with a concussion, as confirmed by Curran. Richard took a wobbly walk over to the sideline and conferred with a trainer before leaving the field.
Blitz pickup (1-on-1's between LB's and RBFB) got a little heated. Stevan Ridley tried to get tough with Jerod Mayo on one rep, but the veteran took exception and shoved Ridley. On the same drill, Bobby Carpenter dispatched Spencer Larsen, Dan Fletcher just wrecked Ridley, and Danny Woodhead handled Tony Fiammetta. Shane Vereen stood strong on more than one run through.
Ivan Fears might have gotten the worst of it on that drill whenDont'a Hightower bullrushed Eric Kettani, hooked his facemask and launched him into the running backs coach. Fears went toppling to the ground. Words were exchanged.
More laps: Today Trevor Scott, Jermaine Cunningham, Ryan Mallett, and Robert Gallery had to take half-hearted punishment runs.
Sebastian Vollmer made a cameo, walking in a cutoff tee-shirt to auxiliary field for rehab work. He was seen for all of the time it takes an offensive lineman with a wonky back to cover about 130 yards.
Rob Gronkowski missed three passes today. It goes without saying this is unusual. On one play, a Tom Brady ball traveled right down the pipe but bobbled between Gronkowski's hands. Patrick Chung came up with the bouncing interception.
Noticed rookie defensive end Justin Francis having a long conversation on the sideline with Gerard Warren. Both were miming different D-line technique during the chat. Considering Warren is entering his 12th NFL season, Francis is probably thrilled to have such a resource.
Brady flashed his sense of humor during 11-on-11s. The quarterback led a reverse on one play and when he ran into the open field, he beckoned safety Patrick Chung with his index finger to come at him. Brady is lucky Chung knew he was kidding; that fight would not be an even matchup.
Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien was sentenced to speak with the media on Sunday. "I think any time youre a ball handler, one of the hardest things to do is to catch punts. Its not only a great drill for any receiver, as well as punt returners, to focus in on trying to catch a ball that normally is tougher to catch than a quarterback throwing you a ball."
O'Brien also addressed the work of Jeff Tarpinian, and undrafted rookie in 2011 who made the team based in large part on his special teams work. "Jeff came in from the University of Iowa (and) had a little bit of experience for some of the things we did. For example, like punt protection where we got to watch him play the left tackle at Iowa; similar footwork and rules and that kind of stuff that we use. Had the mentality we were looking for, had the physical skills that gave him a chance that we were looking for. He came in and worked hard and showed improvement and got better and it worked out where were able to keep him and then eventually got him an opportunity to play." Tarpinian has competed well throughout the camp when I've focused on him both on special teams and in some of the linebacker drills.
When Patrick Chung went down last season, Danny Woodhead stepped in as the personal protector right in front of Zoltan Mesko on punts. The reason? "Hes had some experience doing it before," said O'Brien. "You always like the threat of any type of skill guy to handle the ball. You like the speed element he brings out of the middle of the field in coverage. I can tell you this you never have enough of them. You try to train as many guys as you can because we all know from week to week, some guys you have, some guys you dont. Thats one position, you have to have enough guys and Danny stepped up and did a really good job."
There's no practice Monday and no public access to Gillette so you can scratch that off the "keep kids entertained tomorrow" list.

Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

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Patriots officially side with Brady vs. NFL by filing amicus brief

Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization have been saying for a long time that they hope Tom Brady prevails in his fight with the league over Deflategate. Kraft reiterated that stance on Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meetings.

But on Wednesday, the Patriots took their support for Brady to a different platform. The team has filed an amicus brief stating that it supports Brady and the NFLPA now that the union has filed a petition to be granted a rehearing by the Second Circuit. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, it is a noteworthy move because the last time an NFL team took legal action against league was when late Raiders owner Al Davis sued the NFL. It is important to note, though, as SI.com's Michael McCann explains, that the Patriots have not actually "switched sides" in this instance. As one of 32 teams in the league, they are technically still a part of the NFL Management Council et al. v. NFL Players Association et al. With its amicus brief, however, the team is advocating for a rehearing of a case that the NFL recently won. 

Filing the brief may not necessarily have any legal impact on the case -- judges can ignore the team's opinion in its amicus brief if they so choose -- but its value may be more than simply symbolic in nature. Attorney Daniel Wallach notes that the team's amicus brief covers ground that Brady's petition for rehearing couldn't cover due to page limits. 

On the first page of the amicus brief, in the document's second footnote, the language is strong: "From the outset of this matter, the League's conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a pre-determined result and defense of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady's involvement, was reiled on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offense."

The Patriots have continued to update The Wells Report in Context, a website that argues the findings of the NFL's investigation into Brady that has also accumulated various reports and scientific studies that support Brady's innocence. But this amicus brief is another way for the team to show that it has its quarterback's back. 

The NFLPA filed its petition for a rehearing on Monday and now awaits a decision from the 13 judges of the Second Circuit as to whether or not they will grant Brady a rehearing.

Statistically speaking, Brady is facing long odds to be given a rehearing, but his legal team believes there's reason for optimism