By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Rain forced the Patriots inside their practice bubble on Monday afternoon. The urgency imposed this week by head coach Bill Belichick and his staff forced the aggression to escalate. There were several solid hits in the nearly three-hour practice but the best action centered --- as it has for most of this training cam -- around the second-year tight ends. Rob Gronkowski delivered two crunching blocks during practice, rag-dolling linebacker Gary Guyton on one and leveling safety Sergio Brown on the other. Meanwhile, tight end Aaron Hernandez got absolutely leveled by safety Patrick Chung. "I wasn't expecting it but it was still a good little pop and it got me aggravated," Hernandez admitted. "He plays hard and you gotta be ready at all times."On Saturday, Bill Belichick spoke about how important this week of preparation was to the team. The intensity seems to have been ratcheted up accordingly. Hernandez said a hit like Chung's is necessary to prepare a player for the season. He added,"you need to learn how to hold onto the ball which we learned last week."
Hernandez put the ball on theground twice in the preseason opener. Wes Welker confirmed personnel man Nick Caserio's contention that Welker's moving well in this camp.
"I feel great," Welker said. "I feel like I've gained a step from two years ago. This is the best I've felt in a long time and I just want to continue to play well and get better." Asked which aspect seems different, Welker said, "The main thing is getting off the ball and that's something I lacked a little bit before but that was last year."As for an appraisal of Chad Ochocinco, Welkerempathized with the transition, saying, "You can't ask any more of a guy coming in here and trying to learn the offense. It's frustrating at times as it was for me whenI first got here. There's always that learning curve."Specifically, what's difficult?
"There's just so much," he said. "So much language, so many signals, so many route conversions. It's all the way around it's not one thing it's so many things."Welker deftly eluded a question about entering the final year of his contract saying he's "concentrating on the here and now." Ochocinco seemed perturbed when a sideline throw from Tom Brady wasn't where Ocho wanted. Ocho blurted out a loud, "Come on, man!" The two players had a running dialogue over the next few minutes. Defensive end Andre Carter was outstanding in 1-on-1 drills against linemen. Fellow DEs Eric Moore and Mark Anderson toiled after practice for several minutes working on their 1-on-1 moves as well. Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, James Sanders and Mike Wright all worked out separate from the team on Monday.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.
By Tom E. Curran