Postcards from Pats Camp: Day 21

833523.jpg

Postcards from Pats Camp: Day 21

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Brandon Lloyd returned to practice Wednesday.
Breathing again? Good.
You'll probably also appreciate hearing Logan Mankins had his first day in full pads. But the good feelings on Day 21 were tempered -- Jabar Gaffney suffered an injury to his right quad just into the second hour and missed the rest of practice.
He giveth and He taketh away.
WEATHERThe sun was blazing. Weather.com tells me it was 83 degrees, but with almost 90 humidity, the heat index must have read higher. Mary Paoletti: Amateur meteorologist.
WHAT THEY WOREFull pads.
WHAT THEY DID1:30-2:00: Walkthrough.
2:01-2:12: Running, dynamic running and stretching.
2:13: Drills. Over on the left field it looked like deconstructed special teams work. In one group, Zoltan Mesko helped some guys with punt blocking; in another, the long snapper helped with punt coverage. Elsewhere, some receivers worked on routes, and quarterbacks practiced rollouts and drops. Members of the secondary practiced basic coverages.
2:35: 1-on-1s. This is when Gaffney got hurt. A ball was thrown long out toward the sideline and the receiver put on an extra burst to get there. The pass went incomplete and Gaffney walked gingerly up the sideline. After he met with a trainer, Gaffney took off his jersey and parked it on a big orange cooler for the rest of practice. It could be taken as a positive that he wasn't taken into the locker room.
2:39: 11-on-11. Tom Brady's offensive line looked a little like this: Nate Solder at LT, Nick McDonald at LG, Dan Koppen at C, Donald Thomas at RG, and Marcus Cannon at RT. There was one beautiful play worth noting in this set. Brady looked play-action and the defense bought it. Aaron Hernandz broke away and made it into the end zone with about 10-yards of separation.
2:57: Punt! The barrel also came out but went unused. What a tease.
3:04: 7-on-7. At the back of the field the offensive and defensive lines did tandem 1-on-1s. Over around on goal post Chris Koepplin was stuck shagging for Stephen Gostkowski. He actually tried to kick a ball back to Gostkowski at one point but drilled the top of the goal post instead. The task didn't appear entertaining. The next time Koepplin hit the post he actually looked excited about it. Ah, the life of a back-up kicker.
3:26: More special teams work.
3:35: More 11-on-11.
3:49: Field goals and beat-the-clock field goals. Mesko loves waving that towel around.
WHAT WE SAWWe already talked about the big three being back (Lloyd, Gronkowski, Hernandez). For absences we're left with: Eric Kettani, Alfonzo Dennard, James Ihedigbo (off again after coming back Tuesday), Spencer Larsen, Tracy White, Malcolm Williams, Markus Zusevics, Matt Kopa, Kyle Hix, Sebastian Vollmer, Visanthe Shiancoe, Daniel Fells, Myron Pryor, Jonathan Fanene. Larsen and White made their first appearances on the field, though in shorts and t-shirts.
Gronkowski missed a ball he's caught dozens of times before. During 11-on-11, Brady threw to the tight end right over the middle. The pass was a little high, but it hit off of both Gronkowski's hands. He should have had it.
Safe to say the defense had a better day overall and loved every second of it.
Jeremy Ebert got some work on punt today. He's returned plenty of kickoffs, but punt is a different animal. Ebert probably found that out when he muffed his first attempt.
A little shoving broke out during 7-on-7 and I do believe it was between Logan Mankins and Justin Francis. Tempers fizzled out as soon as they flared perhaps luckily for Francis.
Stevan Ridley continues to get rocked. Derek Martin lowered his shoulder on the running back and sent Ridley right to the ground. Kid always seems to take an extra hit.
During the second round of 11-on-11, Brady executed a pretty little trick play. Wish I could report it.
Shane Vereen caught a ball on the end of a crossing route, much to the frustration of Brandon Spikes. The linebacker went back to the line and immediately dropped down to do some pushups.
Hoyer made a beautiful lofted throw over a defender to Julian Edelman on the sidelines.
Mallett... Oh, Mallett. He was in on two bad plays in a row before getting yanked. The first was intended for Hernandez who was crossing the middle. Pass was thrown to 81's ankles -- incomplete. Next ball bounced off Edelman's hands.
Hoyer couldn't connect with Jeremy Ebert in the corner of the end zone. Probably because Francis would have sacked the stuff out of him before the throw if that was allowed.
WHO'S HOTI'm going to give a nod to Jeremy Ebert. Muffed punts and kicks aside, he's doing better than imagined at receiver. Ebert has good hands and it making a case for himself. It would help if he was consistent on special teams, but it's early yet.
WHO'S NOTThe offense struggled. Again. More dropped passes and poor throws.
WHAT THEY SAID"That's what practice is for: Push it. I think if you don't push it to that point, you don't know how far it can go.'' -- Bill Belichick

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”