Spikes, McCourty & more at minicamp

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from this morning's practice at Patriots rookie minicamp:

Brandon Spikes double dips in "tackling" drill. As caught by eagle-eyed cameraman Bill Messina of Comcast Sports Net, second-round draft choice Brandon Spikes was beaten in a tackling drill in which offensive players attempt to get past defenders within a tight box bordered by orange cones. Unhappy with the result, Spikes pushed the next defender aside and went through the drill again. The drill has offensive players with the ball in their hands and they come running toward the defenders, who must exhibit the proper tackling fundamentals in "touching" the player down. Spikes got beaten by a quick cut, but in a sign of how seriously he takes his craft, he stayed in place and executed the fundamental on the next repetition.

Keeping tabs on Devin McCourty. First-round draft choice Devin McCourty has spent most of his practice time at left cornerback, which makes sense considering that veteran Leigh Bodden returns on the right side. While McCourty figures to line up at every cornerback spot as he acclimates to the team's system, it's notable that his initial work has come at that spot. McCourty, Darius Butler and Shawn Springs look like the top candidates in the competition at left cornerback.

Bill O'Brien coaching the pass-catchers hard. Quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien, who is essentially the team's offensive coordinator without the title, was working hard with the team's pass-catchers on sharp route-running. O'Brien's vocal presence is one aspect that stands out from this camp. Fundamentals are a primary emphasis, and at one point, O'Brien walled off tight end Rob Gronkowski, forcing him to react quickly and adjust his route underneath. Bill Belichick also took time to tutor tight end Aaron Hernandez one-on-one on route-running technique.

Hernandez the lone rookie not to meet with press. Over the last two days, Hernandez has been the lone rookie not to answer questions from reporters. This could be because Hernandez does not want to answer questions about his statement in which he admitted to one single violation of Florida's substance testing policy over the course of three years.

Owner Robert Kraft stops by. Owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft stopped by the practice, taking a closer look at the team's rookies on the field for the first time. For the second day in a row, the team's scouts were in attendance, lining the field.