FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots practiced in soggy, hot and humid conditions Thursday morning, and the coaching staff and front office sounded excited to put the players through those stressful elements.
"This will be good for the club," director of player personnel Nick Caserio said. "As far as the ball-handling is concerned, with a lot of the skill people, defensively, staying on their feet, playing with balance, so this will be good for us."
Wide receiver Wes Welker also participated in 11-on-11 drills for the second time, but Thursday marked the first time he competed against the first-team defense. And linebacker Jerod Mayo welcomed Welker with two good licks over the middle of the field. They weren’t malicious by any means — just two guys being in the same place when the ball arrived — but Welker's back became familiar with the grass on each occasion.
Thirteen players missed practice, with outside linebacker Derrick Burgess, left guard Logan Mankins, wide receiver Matthew Slater, safety Bret Lockett, linebacker Gary Guyton, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur and defensive lineman Ty Warren nowhere to be found. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, running back Thomas Clayton, cornerback Terrence Johnson and defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright each worked out on the sideline.
It's the exact same attendance report from Wednesday's lone session.
One notable portion of practice came during 11-on-11s when quarterback Tom Brady chewed into his offensive line, presumably for not being on the same page. It was a mixture of the first-team line, with left tackle Matt Light, left guard Ryan Wendell, center Dan Koppen, right guard Dan Connolly and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer on the field.
"Tom is just doing a good job, being a great leader, trying to get everybody motivated," Wendell said.