Postcards from Camp: Day 8

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Postcards from Camp: Day 8

Day 8 of Patriots Training Camp. Another day in full pads before Saturday's day off. With the scalding temperatures, Friday attracted the lightest crowd of fans so far at Gillette Stadium. The team gets back at it Sunday with two days of practice before the New Orleans Saints arrive for three days of work.

WEATHER
Hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s. The wind picked up in the late afternoon to help cool things a little bit but the past two days have been the hottest of camp.

WHAT THEY WORE
Full pads. And James Ihedigbo and Matt Slater still cruising around in red "Leave Me ALONE!!" jerseys.

WHAT THEY DID
The warmup period that included half-speed walkthroughs of some running plays, a few special teams reps and then team stretching and running before the team broke into positions and stretched and did drills.

Everyone but the offensive linemen took part in a strip drill, jogging across the width of the field while a teammate tugged at the ball. The teammates would switch and run back to the original spot. DBs and WRs again worked on setting the edge on running plays and funneling ball-carriers inside to the help.

The field goal team worked on half and game-ending field goals, high-tailing it onto the field, lining up quickly and getting the ball through.

The offensive and defensive line worked extensively on combo blocking, stunts and twists.

7-on-7, 11-on-11 and hurryup offense were all executed.

WHO'S HOT
Chandler Jones. The rookie has worked at the right end spot almost exclusively and it appears, as we go along, the team has designs on putting a ton on his plate this season.

Jabar Gaffney. His precision and dependability continues to be noteworthy. Especially with neither Deion Branch nor Brandon Lloyd practicing at full capacity on Friday.

Robert Gallery. During a drill in which offensive lineman had to work in concert to deal with twists in the pass rush, Gallery showed better quickness and his trademark power in stiffening some of the pass rushers as they tried to push the pocket.

WHO'S NOT
Marcus Cannon. He wound up on the ground and lost his helmet during the second scrap. He also got tossed around by Vince Wilfork during some of the blocking drills. That happens, but the shoulder-slumping you see from Cannon when things don't go well may be signaling frustration.

Tom Brady. Dialed in to a high degree during the first few days of camp, his accuracy hasn't been Brady-like the past two days. He underthrew Matt Slater in the end zone, allowing the ball to be flipped away by safety Steve Gregory. Brady loosed a loud expletive after that miss.

WHAT THEY SAID
"Coach Belichick talked to us and hopefully that won't happen again. We can't be fighting ourselves, we gotta be working to improve." - Bobby Carpenter on the two fights that broke out Friday.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.
 

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