Rookie Nate Solder Helps Patriots Earn Day Off by Fielding Punt, While Tight End Aaron Hernandez Shines at Practice


FOXBORO, Mass. — Nate Solder hasn't had a lot of time on the practice field, but on Saturday, he made his most important rep count. The rookie left tackle, who was participating in his third practice, caught a punt at the end of the session to give the Patriots the day off Sunday.

There's a good chance the team was going to get the day off anyway, but Solder's football heroics took the suspense out of Bill Belichick's decision.

Saturday was the Patriots' 12th practice of training camp, and it was their sixth in full pads. They'll practice again at 1:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.

Defensive end Albert Haynesworth, linebacker Brandon Spikes, running back Shane Vereen, running back Kevin Faulk, defensive lineman Mike Wright, safety Ross Ventrone, cornerback Thad Turner, running back Eric Kettani, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick were not spotted at Saturday's practice.

Wide receiver Brandon Tate, left tackle Matt Light, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety James Sanders, safety Josh Barrett, offensive lineman Kyle Hix and defensive lineman Ron Brace were present but did not participate.

After practice, Tom Brady took it upon himself to run sprints from sideline to sideline, which was a rare, if not unprecedented, scene from the quarterback.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez had his best practice of training camp, concluding the session by catching three touchdown passes in goal-line work.

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