Left guard Logan Mankins and defensive end/linebacker Derrick Burgess were the only two players absent from each practice, while wide receivers Wes Welker, Sam Aiken and Darnell Jenkins and defensive lineman Ron Brace didn’t participate in practice but worked out on the sideline.
Safety Bret Lockett appeared to be New England's first casualty to injury, but it didn’t look severe. He walked off the field with a trainer midway through the second session and did not return.
Here are some other observations from the two practice sessions.
Moment of the Day
The team was broken off into positional drills during the afternoon practice, and one of the groups featured one-on-one passing drills between running backs and linebackers, with Zac Robinson working as quarterback. Running backs broke out of the backfield in a passing route while trying to break free from a linebacker.
On the first go-round, linebacker Jerod Mayo swallowed up Kevin Faulk at the line and broke up Robinson's pass, but Faulk ran back to the front of the line and called for Mayo to join him for another rep. Faulk put a great swivel move on Mayo, faked left and darted around Mayo toward the middle of the field to break wide open and catch a pass, drawing a huge ovation from the crowd.
Break Into Song
The second practice ended with the team huddling up and singing "Happy Birthday" to assistant coach Pepper Johnson, who turned 46 on Thursday. After everyone dispersed, defensive lineman Ty Warren doused Johnson with a Gatorade bucket before placing the bucket over Johnson's head.
If Thursday's sessions were any indication, Patrick Chung has the edge as the starting safety next to Brandon Meriweather, and Nick Kaczur has the lead to take over at left guard. Kaczur got many more reps than Dan Connolly, who figures to be his closest competition.
Also, Gary Guyton has remained as the Patriots' starting inside linebacker next to Mayo, despite some speculation here that he could move to the outside. For much of Thursday, Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich were the starters at outside linebacker in 3-4 sets.
Tom Brady and Randy Moss — who has looked excellent — connected for a deep pass down the right sideline in the morning session. Moss broke through the middle of the secondary and outraced safety James Sanders to catch up to a ball that was in the air forever, and Moss did a fine job to stretch out and make a finger-tip snag.
In the afternoon, Brian Hoyer and Brandon Tate connected in the same spot, although there was no defense present. Tate was chugging down the right sideline and did a great job to dive forward and grab the ball over his shoulder.
Tate got most of the reps of the kickoff returners. Julian Edelman and Taylor Price were next in line, and Devin McCourty and Sammy Morris also got their shots.
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