FOXBORO (CBS) – The Patriots annual practice for season ticket holders was pretty interesting last night, giving fans a chance to check out the new-look squad on the Gillette Stadium field.
It also came on the heels of Gil Santos and Tedy Bruschi going into the Hall of Fame, so the place was packed more than usual and the energy in the stadium was high. Bruschi came in to talk to the players before the practice started, and from the speech he gave on the steps of the hall, to every time he addressed the media as a player, you know he can motivate among the best.
Here are some takeaways from last night’s practice — the fourth of the preseason:
– Leon Washington said the experience inside the stadium was something he’s never seen before. He called the practice a mini- game, with over 20,000 fans in the stands.
Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly said he could feel the love as soon as he walked into the stadium. He said he knew the fans cared for the team because of the practices, but this was a different level.
– The night practice was ironically Tim Tebow’s best practice. He hit receivers in stride and executed better than he had all training camp. He finally looked like he was getting it.
– As for the defense versus the offense in drills, the “d” won — hands down. Aqib Talib intercepted Tom Brady twice and Chandler Jones repeatedly had pressure on the quarterback. The players have said they feel more comfortable in the defensive system and it’s starting to show.
– After the practice many players signed autographs but it wasn’t Brady or Tebow drawing the biggest crowd. That was the recovering Rob Gronkowski, who was also the team’s biggest water boy during the practice. Also, give some love to Tebow and Ryan Mallett. Both players were the last ones on the field after signing for almost 40 minutes.
Follow Levan Reid on Twitter @LevanReid