by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
The Patriots opened their 2009 training camp last Thursday, and at this writing are preparing for their eighth practice in four days. Let’s take a quick look back over the short week before we forget the details:
- Tom Brady appeared as promised, and observers quickly sized up his new knee brace, and eyeballed what may have been a limp. Meanwhile, the ’07 MVP lobbied for some pre-season action. I vote yes. It would be silly to think him exempt from the physiological and psychological barriers that others have faced. It’s said the shortest path through that minefield is being back on the horse, to regain the feel of it until it truly becomes second nature again. The preseason offers the opportunity to accelerate that process, on a controlled basis, with nothing competitive at stake.
- Strangely enough, that may have only been the second biggest story of the short week. On Friday, the notorious Mike Vick was said – actually, guaranteed – to be auditing in Foxborough for a job with the Patriots. Much bandwidth was eaten and many hands were wrung until somebody thought to check as to the veracity of the tale. Turns out it was all bullshit, and maybe physically impossible. Michael Gee has the grim details on his fine Homegame blog.
- Besides, the whole Vick on the Patriots thing makes no sense to me. What the hell is he going to do? No fair using your Madden playbook as you develop your response.
- Cleo Lemon, though? Didn’t he once make a run to be the Dolphins QB? I’m not sure this should reflect on Kevin O’Connell. Matt Gutierrez, maybe.
- Can the nine-straight days of double sessions to open camp be seen as a reaction to last year’s bland August? It’s one thing to be coming of an 18-1 season, and another to be last year’s 9th place finisher.
- On the field, some players – like veteran receivers Randy Moss and Joey Galloway – seemed to be on a one-on, one-off practice schedule. Others – like contract-year defensive end Richard Seymour and old standby Tedy Bruschi – were hardly seen.
- Jerod Mayo got rave reviews from everyone in the early going. Is he already New England’s best defensive player? Another name heard in respect to early highlights; Brandon Meriweather, who seems to intercepting a pass every day.
- Rookies Patrick Chung and Sebastian Vollmer also drew plaudits from observers; safety Chung for his breakneck pace and Vollmer for his versatility a both tackle spots. Ron Brace practiced at 3-4 end and then inside as the Pats showed a four-man line.
- In the much discussed secondary, Shawn Springs got the flu and had to start late. Jonathan Wilhite stood in over Terrence Wheatley and Darius Butler, for whatever that’s worth. Leigh Bodden performed fairly anonymously (not that it’s a bad thing) judging by how infrequently he’s been mentioned. Early on, he held his own on a long Brady-to-Moss bomb.
- In a move seemingly designed to shock folks who have spent the last five months obsessing over the Pats outside linebackers, the team released UDFA Vince Redd. In favor of a third long-snapper, I might add. Between this and Belichick’s Vick comments on Friday, I think he’s f**king with us. As if to make everybody feel better, Gary Guyton apparently had a strong start to camp.
- Elsewhere, a veteran took a young player under his wing, a free agent expressed optimism over his new surroundings, and an eager rookie got special instructions from an anxious coach. Tom Malone got cut. In other words, same old shit. Isn’t it great?
- Vince Wilfork answered the inevitable questions about his contract, while pledging to play out the remainder of his six-year rookie deal without interruption. Are you getting the sense for the first time that this thing may be headed down a familiar track? Have the Pats set a below-market price on a player, knowing there’s a better than average chance their offer will be exceeded? You, me and everybody else has Wilfork as indispensable, yet the team we think we know so well may again be saying, ‘meh.’
E-mail Scott Benson at email@example.com