by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

With a large turnover of their roster, it’s worth it to take a closer look at some of the players – rookies and veterans – new to New England this season, based on observations from practice on Monday morning, August 3.

For a rundown on the workings of training camp practices, please see last year’s column on the subject.

Block Party: This year’s crop of tight ends seem primed to do almost everything except cut the grass. Alex Smith and David Thomas spent time lined up in the backfield, while Chris Baker played mostly on the line. Tyson DeVree fluctuated between both spots. At one point or other, all tight ends played out of the wide receiver position. All showed solid catching ability. (On an unrelated note – really – Benjamin Watson did not practice this session.)

Half-decent Reception: At this point, I’m not sold on Greg Lewis as the team’s number four receiver. Number three seems secure in the hands (and feet) of Joey Galloway, who treated the crowd to a few sweet end-zone-corner fade routes. (If you need to know who are one and two, I’m not sure I can help you.) But Julian Edelman continued to show improvement, making a few nice grabs and at one point juking Patrick Chung in one-on-one tackling drills. Also, Terence Nunn seems to catch all passes thrown his way.

One-ton Teuton: Rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer (6-8, 315) elicited some awed comments from onlookers (Overheard in the bleachers: “Guy’s 6-8. That ain’t right.”). He moves well and consistently got himself to the right spot.

Welcome, Backs: A mixed bag for the fresh faces in the defensive backfield. Rookies Chung and Darius Butler had a few snafus in one-on-one coverage drills, while Leigh Bodden got beaten by Lewis in the corner of the end zone on a pretty pass from some guy named Brady. Later, Chung showed up in run support and both Butler and Bodden demonstrated solid pass defense during full-squad scrimmaging.

Squad Thrust: Never a bad idea to put big, fast folks on the kickoff team. Two such candidates include Vinny Circiu and new, new Patriot Rob Ninkovich, just signed last weekend. Watching them rumble down the field following the ball, one almost fears for the returner. 

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