FOXBORO -- After a down day for most of his team's top players Thursday, Bill Belichick and his staff have a fairly big day planned for Friday.
After five padded practices in the last six days, the Patriots will hold their first intrasquad scrimmage of the summer.
"We're going to do some team situational work today and try to put a lot of the segmeneted piortions of practice together," Belichick said. "Down and distance, moving the field, kicking situations, communication, play-calling and so-forth, clock.
"As many things as we can kind of work into this practice and create kind of similar to a game situation. That's what we're going to do today. We'll see how it goes, but that will give us a day of experience as a team of doing it. Hopefully the overall operation will go smoother when we have to do it next week."
This will give the Patriots an opportunity not only to hone their awareness as they shift quickly from one situation to the next, but it will also give them some practice when it comes to getting on and off the field -- which can be a challenge when there's a cast of 90 players on and around one field.
"This is putting it all together instead of doing one thing for a sustained period of time, which isn't really the way football is played," Belichick said. "This gives us a chance to simulate a moving game. First down, second down, third down, ball moves, fp moves, kicking unit comes on the field, another offensive and defensive unit comes out on the exchange. That's how you play. You don't run ten first-down plays in a row. You don't run eight third-down plays in a row or eight sub blitzes in a row or 10 punts in a row. That's just not football. Those are good teaching methods and they're more efficient so there's a place for that. But there's a place for trying to simulate a game."
FOXBORO - The Patriots received some very good news on Thursday as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was back on the practice field in preparation for Sunday's game against the Texans.
Cannon did not participate in Wednesday's practice and he was listed as having an ankle injury and a concussion. That he was on the field a day later means that he has advanced to the point in the league's concussion protocol that he can participate in practice, but it's unclear what his availability will be for Sunday's game.
Should Cannon be sidelined, the Patriots would likely go with Cameron Fleming (or LaAdrian Waddle) as their starter at right tackle. But if Cannon can go, the Patriots would certainly take him. The Texans defensive line will be among the most talented that New England sees all season.
Missing from Thursday's practice were running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee). Burkhead missed Wednesday's session as well, casting some doubt on his availability for Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski was at the start of practice for the second straight day. He participated in warmups and drills during the media-availability portion of Wednesday's practice but the team announced later in the day that he did not participate due to a groin injury suffered against the Saints.
Perhaps this will finally close the book on Deflategate?
One of the Roger Goodell "clown" towels that Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy had made for the Patriots' season-opener - this one signed by Tom Brady - fetched $6,500 at former Pats offensive lineman Matt Light's charity auction.
A spokeswoman for Light and his Light Foundation confirmed to the Boston Herald that the towel was sold at the live auction at the recent Matt Light Celebrity Shoot-Out.
Portnoy, who paid $140,000 to have the towels made and distributed to fans at the Sept. 7 opener, wrote that he would've paid $10,000 to get the Brady-signed towel, which he called "My holy grail."
I would have gladly paid 10k to get my towel back. Because this would legit be the best memorabilia piece I could ever own. It would be the perfect final chapter in Deflategate to have this hanging on the wall of Barstool World HQ’s. So while I think it’s really cool Brady signed the towel it just doesn’t feel right that I don’t own it.