Wright feels right at Day 2 of lockout workouts

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Wright feels right at Day 2 of lockout workouts

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com

CHESTNUT HILL Informal. But still damn important.

For Mike Wright, the lockout workouts held Wednesday and Thursday at Boston College give the Patriots defensive tackle a chance to get back to a place he couldnt even think about last fall.

On the field with his teammates.

Sidelined much of last season by a debilitating concussion and its aftereffects, Wright took a minute Thursday to talk about being back on the field even in this limited basis with 40 or so teammates.

Its been great, said Wright, who led the Patriots with 5.5 sacks despite his limited playing time. Its good to be back with the guys and working together. Its a chance to see some new faces, some old faces. Its good to get out there and get going for next season.

With NFL owners meeting with players head DeMaurice Smith in Chicago this week in advance of Fridays court hearing in St. Louis, were getting the strongest indication in some time that real work toward ensuring a full season is being done.

Meanwhile, Thursdays workout was a reminder of how far behind the players are getting despite their best efforts at working independently.

Normally, this would be the week the Patriots conduct their June mini-camp. It would have followed OTAs and passing camp and the rookies would have already attended their rookie mini-camp.

But this shorts and t-shirts workout on Thursday with no contact and no coaches is the most important team-wide exercise of the star-crossed offseason of 2011. How much technical correction can be done in real time? And if the practice isnt taped and then broken down, how can development happen? How much can be installed? How much can be done when players who have had their health benefits suspended by the league are loathe to get injured and have their jobs in jeopardy in the fall?

Despite all that, the benefit for the players is there. Mostly, its team building.

Whos in? Thats a question that was answered by attendance and the level of fitness players showed up in.

And if any were looking for an example of commitment, they could find veteran running back Kevin Faulk. Faulk is a free agent and coming back from a blown ACL. Yet he was on the field Thursday, moving with the quickness and confidence were accustomed to seeing.

For players like Wright, the chance to be on the field with guys hes fought next to was refreshing.

I feel much better, said Wright. Its good to be back in it and its good to be working with the guys and getting back into a normal routine. It lasted a while. Im just glad that its over. It was a lot longer than expected but Ive moved past it and Im just looking forward to next year.

Now we just need next year to get here.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

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Branch on reduced role vs. Saints: "Ask Bill"

FOXBORO - If Alan Branch is worried about his spot with the Patriots, he isn’t acting that way. A notorious slow starter, Branch played just six snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. And to hear him talk, it’s business as usual.

“It’s not like you can practice 3 technique on a store clerk,” said Branch late Wednesday afternoon. When informed that he probably could if he wanted, Branch smiled and noted “you’d probably get arrested for that.”

All kidding aside, it was stark to see Branch’s ample behind stapled to the bench. He earned a two-year contract this offseason, and his presence on the interior has been critical to the defense’s success. But after getting pushed around a bit too often in that opening night loss to the Chiefs, Branch spent a lot more time watching then playing. Did he know that he wasn’t a big part of the plan?

“That’s another question you gotta ask Bill, man” said Branch. “That’s not something I can talk about.”

Branch has - at times - come off as nonchalant about the game. Wins, losses, big plays, no plays, none of it seems to change his demeanor. Knowing that, I asked him if he was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

“I mean every player wants to be on the field so it is what it is,” he responded. 

Does he think that he’ll be more involved Sunday against the Texans?

“I don’t know what they plan to do with me,” he said. “i just need to go in there and keep my head to the grindstone and work.”

That may be Bill Belichick’s plan: sitting the player to motivate him. It would also seem to be potentially the last resort, and with someone who clearly marches to the beat of his own drum, it’s unclear how he’ll respond.

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)