Spikes absence notable at practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes was a notable absence at the Patriots’ Monday morning training camp practice, which was held in pads and in front of the smallest crowd since camp opened July 26.

Given Spikes’ recent injury history and offseason knee surgery, coupled with how the defense seems to take on a different personality when Spikes is on the field, his absence was the most newsworthy item from practice.

A few other quick-hit thoughts:

Rookie slip and slide. The annual rookie slip and slide was held this morning, with defensive lineman Vince Wilfork doing the honors and holding the hose. Rookies ran through the hose and had to recover a fumble while they were getting doused. As noted by @Meepein on Twitter, does this make Wilfork a “hose tackle?"

This was a situational-heavy practice. Bill Belichick barked out down-and-distances, the sticks were out, and officials were on the field. This is a big part of how Belichick prepares the team for a game.

Offensive line still thin. Reserve tackles Darrion Weems (leg/knee) and Kyle Hix (left arm/shoulder), who didn’t finish Sunday’s practice, were not on the practice field. That left the line thin once again, with center/guard Nick McDonald, who was practicing in full pads for the first time, kicked out to tackle.

Love is in the air. Defensive lineman Kyle Love, who was poked in the eye in Sunday’s practice and didn’t finish the session, was back on the field.