FOXBOROUGH – It wasn’t the sharpest day for Tom Brady.
During two-minute work, Brady was picked off by safety Steve Gregory, who stepped in front of a pass intended for Julian Edelman. Brady also appeared to overthrow a couple of receivers.
“He was pretty fired up,” Wes Welker said of Brady. “He’s his own biggest critic. As much as coach [Bill Belichick] even stays on him and everyone else, he’s his own worst enemy sometimes. It’s great to see. He cares. He wants to do great, and he is great.”
Brady had been sharp since camp began, and every player is going to have an off day, but Welker still takes solace in knowing that his great quarterback can be average at times — and he knows the two-time most valuable player won’t be making the same mistakes again.
“It’s good to see him human sometimes,’’ said Welker. “Everybody has bad plays out there. It’s how you bounce back from them, how you go out there and compete and keep fighting, and how you get after it out there. He’s always understanding that and knowing that if he makes a bad play he’s going to come back 10 times better the next time. It really rubs off on all the other guys out there.”
Safety Patrick Chung gave a wry smile when asked if the practice went down as one in the secondary’s win column, but then he demurred.
“Going against [Brady] is definitely going to make you better, hands down,” Chung said. “You guys know that. Everybody knows that. I mean, we just got to keep stringing them along . . . We’re just trying to get to that top level, you know?”
Brady ended the day without three top receivers. Brandon Lloyd missed practice for the second straight day while tending to a minor issue; Jabar Gaffney walked slowly off the field with a member of the training staff with about 45 minutes to go in the session; and Deion Branch, though he hasn’t been participating much in recent days, jogged off the field about an hour before practice concluded.
Wednesday night’s much-talked-about fracas featuring Nate Solder and Brandon Spikes was no big deal, Belichick said.
“Football is competitive. We’re in a competitive camp. I think some of those things are just part of football,” he said.
The skirmish was mild compared with others that Belichick has seen in his 37 years of coaching in the NFL, but all such incidents have taught him some things: “I try to stay out of the way and not get hit, which that has happened more than once,” he said.
Dan Koppen, who also mixed it up a bit with Dane Fletcher and James Ihedigbo on Wednesday, downplayed the scuffles.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” Koppen said. “Things happen; it’s camp and people get tired. I think everybody moved on pretty quickly after that. A little pushing, but no big deal.”
Comings and goings
The Patriots continued their roster shuffling, aimed at adding bodies to the offensive line. They signed rookie Derek Dennis and claimed rookie Dustin Waldron off waivers; both players had been with Miami.
Dennis, a 24-year-old Temple product, was listed at 6 feet 3 inches, 315 pounds. He started all 13 games at left guard for the Owls last season but also played at center and tackle in his career. He was released by the Dolphins a day after they opened camp.
Waldron (6-5, 310) played at Portland State, where he was a three-year starter at left tackle.
To make room for Waldron, the Patriots placed Jamey Richard on injured reserve with a concussion. The former Colt was signed May 29.
New England announced that offensive lineman Nick McDonald passed his physical and is now eligible to practice.