Wes Welker Practices With First-Team Offense, Torry Holt’s Role Still Uncertain


FOXBORO, Mass. — Wes Welker's rehab took another step in the right direction Tuesday night when he participated in his first 11-on-11 drills of training camp.

Welker was with the first-team offense against the scout-team defense in red-zone work midway through the Patriots' 12th practice of camp. However, Welker did not participate in 11-on-11s later in practice when the first-team defense took the field.

Safety Patrick Chung missed his first practice of camp, but he worked out on the sideline with other absentees — cornerbacks Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Johnson and defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Ron Brace and Mike Wright.

Defensive lineman Ty Warren, linebacker Gary Guyton, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, safety Bret Lockett, wide receiver Matthew Slater, outside linebacker Derrick Burgess and left guard Logan Mankins were all absent from practice.

There's also been some light shed on two injuries. On the far side of the field, a trainer was spotted wrapping the left thigh of Wilhite and the right thigh of Johnson, indicating that both could have tweaked their hamstrings.

And finally, running back Thomas Clayton returned after missing the last eight padded practices.

Here are some other observations from the sixth day of training camp.

On the Radio

Linebackers coach Matt Patricia was wearing the headset and calling plays during 11-on-11s with the first-team offense and first-team defense, which is yet another indication that he's the de facto defensive coordinator.

Shifting Guards

Ryan Wendell took the majority of the snaps at left guard with the first-team offensive line, and he could be pushing Dan Connolly on the depth chart. With Nick Kaczur nursing an undisclosed injury, Connolly and Wendell have been battling for Mankins' spot on the O-line. To this point, the Patriots seem more confident using Connolly at right guard, where he filled in for the injured Stephen Neal in 2009.

Projecting a Prominent Cut

Make sure to check a new edition of NESN.com's roster predictions every Friday throughout training camp and the preseason. Here's a teaser for this week's edition: Wide receiver Torry Holt will be on the outside looking in. Holt hasn?t done anything to stick out in training camp, and he's been lapped by Brandon Tate and Taylor Price.

Since wide receiver Sam Aiken told NESN.com on Tuesday that he's had the same role as the special teams leader this season (Aiken was the captain in 2009), it looks like he's got a great shot to earn a roster spot. It's hard to figure out Holt's role with this team.

Rising Rookie

With Guyton out with a left knee injury, Brandon Spikes has taken over at starting inside linebacker alongside Jerod Mayo. Guyton's injury doesn?t appear to be serious, but Spikes at least has an edge on Tyrone McKenzie in terms of reps.

Private Birthday Bash

The crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to quarterback Tom Brady, who turned 33 on Tuesday, but the team didn?t do anything to acknowledge his birthday during either practice. In the past, Brady's teammates have pulled some pranks on him, like hiding his helmet and throwing a pie in his face. However, center Dan Koppen had a wry smile on his face in the afternoon when he was asked about Brady's birthday, so it's fair to assume the Patriots did something for their quarterback.

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