FOXBORO (CBS) – The Patriots first practice of the year was a very light one. Players were in jerseys and shorts and there were no pads. ‘Mental reps’ was the theme of the day as guys just walked through what they were being told.
It was good to see cornerback Leigh Bodden on the field. He missed all of last season with a torn rotator cuff. Having him out there on the practice field means that he has passed the physical and he’s ready to play.
There were a list of veterans and un-drafted players that were not in attendance:
QB Ryan Mallett, CB Ras-I Dowling, CB Kyle Arrington, RB Shane Vereen, RB Stevan Ridley, CB Malcolm Williams, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, G/T Marcus Cannon, G Logan Mankins, OT Nate Solder, OL Nick Kaczur, TE Alge Crumpler, DL Myron Pryor and DL Marcus Stroud
I would not read much into any of that just yet, especially Mankins, Green-Ellis and Crumpler. Stroud has reportedly been released. As for Kazcur, I think his days on this team are numbered.
11:35 a.m. -BELICHICK TOUCHES ON HAYNESWORTH
It seems every season Bill Belichick arrives at training camp pumped and ready to go. He hit the podium and then started right into getting on with the the season. Here are some of the topics he touched on.
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Opening statement. “Welcome back. It’s been a very busy three days for us. Four now, I guess, from Monday to this morning. Trying to juggle a lot of balls in the air between player personnel rules, contract rules, practice rules, assembling the team, getting everyone in here, trying to get them out on the field, start getting our training camp going, adjusting some practice, things like that, from what we normally do. Just trying to get everything underway and get a smooth flow here. A lot of work to do, but we’re excited to get started. It was good to see everybody back and we’re just kind of taking it hour by hour; I wouldn’t say day by day yet. One step at a time. Try to get through practice, or walkthrough this morning, practice this afternoon, and just try to get everything up and running. As usual, there have been a number of, and will be, some personnel transactions; we’re right in the middle of free agency throughout the league. We’ve been involved in some of those as well. I talked to [Redskins coach] Mike Shanahan last night and we’re in the acquiring process of [Albert] Haynesworth, but that’s not complete yet. So I can’t really comment on that at this point until it’s completed, if it does get completed. We’ll see how all that goes. Otherwise, it’s good to be out there, good to get going, and looking forward to the start of training camp this morning.”
On being comfortable with the leadership in the locker room. “I have no idea. We haven’t even stepped foot on the field. It’s a new team, a new year, a totally blank slate. I have no idea what we have right now; we haven’t even gotten in the huddle yet. Take it day by day and see how it goes.”
On rule changes and how coaching is different from when he first entered the league in 1975. “A lot of things have changed, there are a lot of things that are different than when I started coaching, on a lot of levels — players, technology, equipment we use and so forth. I think that’s part of it. I’m sure there have been changes in your business over the last few years. … Bob Dylan talked about that 50 years ago.”
11:20 a.m. – VINCE WILFORK ON CAMP, HAYNESWORTH
Like most of the players, Vince Wilfork expressed excitement about the start of camp and getting back to the grind. This morning’s session was light and a walk through. No helmets, no pads and virtually no running but that did not quell the enthusiasm of the Patriots defensive lineman. This is a sampling of what Vince had to say afterwards.
On getting back to work: “Just happy to be back. It’s been a long time for us, for all of us, for myself. It’s time to get to work. We have a lot in front of us right now, going into the playbook, great deal of commitment to where we want to be. That’s where we’re at now, starting with the meetings and the walkthrough and just start putting it together.”
On Albert Haynesworth as a player and potential teammate: “I think he’s a great player, hell of a player. I had a chance to play in the Pro Bowl with him. I think he’s a great athlete… One thing we try not to do is see what’s going on around the league because our hands are full right now. No more two-a-days, that knocks half of your practices away. We’re in that study room, watching film, getting back, and trying to move forward. Whatever that is, that’s what we’re going to do. If it’s with certain people, it is, if it’s not, oh well, this ship is moving, moving fast, moving quick. I’m just excited to be back.”
On teaching the Patriot Way to newcomers: “That person, he’ll see how we do things around here. Point blank. We’ve had guys come through here with a rap sheet, [people saying] that, ‘He can’t be handled,’ or ‘This guy can’t do this.’ You know what, it worked out fine for us. So, I don’t think it’ll be a big problem for us. Like I said, that’s the organization’s call on who they bring in and who they don’t bring in. As a teammate, when we’re on the field, we’re all working together, we want to be the best.”
8:45 a.m. – HAYNESWORTH TRADE A ROLL OF THE DICE
For those who did not know, the New England Patriots have acquired defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth from the Washington Redskins, for a 5th round pick in 2013.
This is another roll of the dice gamble by Bill Belichick.
He did it with Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon and both of those were successful.
The Pats also did it with Randy Moss and although that was successful, it ended badly.
If all goes well, Albert will come in and be quiet. He will work in third down packages and take some pressure off of Vince Wilfork.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports from Foxboro.
Albert, when playing well, requires a double team, so that should free up the linebackers.
Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Rob Ninkovich and Jerod Mayo can all benefit, IF Albert buys into the so-called Patriot way.
If he doesn’t, the Pats can cut him and it will cost them short money and they still get to keep the pick.
This type of player has been an ideal one for Bill Belichick.
The environment should be right and maybe this can give the Pats the push they need on defensive 3rd downs.
Last year, the defense was dead last in the league in that category.