|TOM BRADY Learn from errors|
Feeling a bit of a pass rush
Brady says time to prepare is short
FOXBOROUGH - Many people had Labor Day off, but with so many missed days of work among his wide receivers and tight ends, Tom Brady and his targets were working overtime to get up to speed for Sunday's season opener against the New York Jets at Giants Stadium.
Brady said the group will have to work out the kinks as best it can before the opener.
"It puts pressure on those guys because now there's really no room for error," said Brady. "There's not much time. I mean, we're pressed now. We know when we're playing and we've got a limited amount of time before that day comes. We'd like to make as many mistakes as we can in practice so the mistakes don't come up during the game."
The progress of the passing game was helped by the return of wide receiver Randy Moss, who was spotted at a full pads practice for the first time since Aug. 1. (Released receiver Reche Caldwell said Moss's first day back was Sunday.)
Like Brady's newborn son, the Patriots' passing attack is still in its infancy.
"I think one thing we've proved over the years is it's a long time down the road, but as the season progresses, we do really identify what we do well and we stick to those things," said Brady. "There's going to be a little bit of a process to do that. As long as the guys are committed to coming out here and working hard and buying into what we're trying to do, the process goes pretty well."
But without two top defensive players - defensive end Richard Seymour, who is on the physically unable to perform list, and safety Rodney Harrison, who has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances - Brady will be under even more pressure to put points on the board.
"That's what we're going to try to do," said Brady, "which is no different from any other week, but it probably comes back to get you if you don't when you lose Hall of Fame-type players on the other side of the ball."
Cornerback Asante Samuel practiced yesterday, and the only players not present for the media portion of the full-pads session were defensive lineman Mike Wright (leg) and safety Rashad Baker (broken hand). Safety Eugene Wilson, who appeared to suffer an injury against Carolina Aug. 24, also returned to practice, and tight end David Thomas, who is recovering from a broken foot, was also present. Coach Bill Belichick said practice is the best way to evaluate how ready Samuel and Moss are for Sunday's game; both missed more than a month of workouts.
"That's as close as we can get to game conditions," said Belichick. "We'll just make [evaluations] based on what we see out there. Randy was here for the spring camps. He was here for part of training camp. Asante has been here for four years. It's not like we've never seen those players on the field."
James is game
Harrison's suspension likely means that third-year safety James Sanders will be thrust into the starting lineup. Sanders started five of the six games Harrison missed last season and was a starter for all three playoff games. He finished last season with 45 tackles, a sack, and an interception. "James played quite a bit for us last year, played well and did a solid job," said Belichick. "I'm sure we'll call on him to do some things, but how exactly all of that will unfold, some of that is dependent on what our situation is and who the Jets have in there and so forth." Sanders said he is a lot more confident than he was at this time last year. "I got a couple of years in the league," he said. "With experience you get some more confidence when you're out there. You're more comfortable with the system, the plays, so I would have to say I do have some more confidence."
Claims, counter claims
Newly signed linebacker David Herron may have gotten caught in the crossfire of a waiver-wire showdown between the Patriots and Vikings. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Vikings coach Brad Childress went on a Minneapolis radio station Sunday and said the Patriots wanted to sneak tight end Garrett Mills, who was claimed by the Vikings, onto their practice squad. Childress said he had a conversation with Belichick in which he was told that if the Vikings didn't claim Mills, the Patriots wouldn't claim a Minnesota player they had interest in. Childress declined that offer and the Patriots picked up Herron, an undrafted rookie free agent from Michigan State. Herron, who said he has no experience in a 3-4 system, said he had been told by the Vikings he would be on their practice squad. "I thought I was going to be at Minnesota," said Herron, who was playing weak-side linebacker for the Vikings. "I was going to look for an apartment out there, and they gave me a call and told me to be on a plane out here."
On the squad
The Patriots named the seven players they've added to their practice squad: wide receivers Bam Childress and C.J. Jones, linebacker Corey Mays, tight end Jason Rader, defensive lineman Santonio Thomas, offensive lineman Clint Oldenburg, and fullback Kyle Eckel. Eckel, a US Naval Academy graduate, was with the Patriots during training camp in 2005, rushing 20 times for 80 yards and two touchdowns and catching two passes for 11 yards. He continued serving in the Navy before hooking on with the Dolphins last season. Miami released him out of training camp.