We return to our weekly segments with the one and only Peter King of MMQB and NBC's Football Night in America.
[0:03:49] ... he would clearly. The number one guy in the community on the BaltimoreRavens used this state spokesman for anti bullying campaign. So you know I think he also. Got some credit some some points or ... [0:07:33] ... Peter King Sports Illustrated in the MM QB. Look let's be honest BillBelichick economic news very often when he gets together with a -- fact usually just the opposite he tries to keep the news from yet. So when he just casually dropped the word yesterday that Rob Gronkowski been cleared -- full go for training -- -- was out on the field with his teammates today. It's surprised a lot of us do you think it surprised the other teams in the AFCeast. Well it's obviously been an excellent offseason for rehab for Rob Gronkowski because clearly. I think most people felt that he'd start ... [0:09:45] ... changing. All time great perhaps defensive player for the patriots we think TomBrady is that guy. What his career is over he's probably gotta be -- But I don't think there's anybody on the patriots ...
FOXBORO — Thursday was like Christmas morning for many Patriots fans as they got their first glimpse of the 2014 squad on the field together for the first time on the first day of training camp.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski took part in team activities (with the exception of 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s) for the first time since tearing his ACL last December, as during OTA’s Gronkowski worked off to the side, not working with the entire offense. Free agent cornerback acquisitions Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who should strengthen the secondary, took part in their first training camp session as members of the Patriots, and second-year wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins made several nice catches in 7-on-7s.
There was plenty to get excited about, for sure, but it was just Day 1 and the team was in shells and shorts, which made it hard to get a true sense of exactly where the team and individual’s were both skill and scheme wise.
“At this point, we’ve only had one day of practice, so we really don’t know what we’re capable of,” linebacker Jerod Mayo said following the workout. “We’re taking it one day at a time and continuing to work towards our goal.”
Much of the talk entering camp has been the additions of Browner and Revis in the secondary and with what was already in place, could be one of the best secondaries in the Bill Belichick era.
With only one real practice under their belts, it’s hard to really know what their true impact will have on the defense.
“Honestly, it has been one day of practice out here,” Mayo said. “We have a lot of different schemes and plays to put in so ask me that in a couple of weeks and I’ll let you know.”
Where exactly individual’s and team units are will become clearer as camp rolls on, beginning over the weekend when the team will wear pads for the first time, which comes real blocking and tackling.
Like many of the fans, the players are excited too.
“Definitely,” said Mayo. “You can only do so much out here with no pads on. Saturday will be a good day but obviously we have some work to do tomorrow putting some plays in. Saturday will be fun.”
On Thursday’s edition of “Inside Training Camp Live” on NFL Network, analysts Mike Tannenbaum and Solomon Wilcots discussed Darrelle Revis and the kind of difference maker he’ll be with the Patriots this season:
Mike Tannenbaum: ‘Darrelle is one of those players that he has attributes you can’t see; the toughness, the competiveness. He’ll bring a lot to that New England defense’¦You look at some of the teams they’re going to compete against ‘ the Demaryius Thomas‘ of the world and Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Bowe — I think what [Bill Belichick] saw last year in the [AFC] Championship Game was we really struggled getting off the field against Denver. His answer was not only Darrelle Revis but Brandon Browner to couple that with some of the other pieces they have in the secondary. They’re going to try to turn a weakness into a strength, and with Browner and Revis and their physicality, I think it’s going to greatly improve their man-to-man defense.’
Solomon Wilcots: ‘He’s a transformational player. He allows the Patriots to transform their entire defense because he can neutralize the best wide receiver on the opposite side of the ball. He is that kind of player. You just love the fact that when you take a look at Darrelle Revis — and Bill Belichick talked about it — he has a high football IQ; he understands what teams are trying to do to him. He can neutralize the best player simply because he’s probably one of the most fearless cornerbacks I’ve ever seen. When he steps up in the box and that press man-to-man coverage, whether it’s Calvin Johnson, whether it’s A.J. Green, whether it’s Dez Bryant — it doesn’t even enter his mind that what happens when I get beat? I don’t even think it really toys with him that he even thinks I could get beat. There is not even a potential for that to happen in his mind. I think that’s what separates him from the rest of the pack.’
Tannenbaum: ‘You read reports that when he’s working out in Arizona ‘ which he does every year ‘ there were other Patriots down there with him, be it the Kyle Arrington‘s of the world, Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty. Darrelle has attributes you can’t see and when you’re trying to build a championship team on both sides of the ball, that’s really critical. It’s interesting in just his first season, to get that sort of attendance says a lot about the swagger that he has in that locker room.’
FOXBORO — Tom Brady had his favorite target back on the field on Thursday for the first day of Patriots camp.
But Rob Gronkowski was limited to cutting drills and catching passes in the red zone from Brady. Gronkowski ran several short patterns alongside Julian Edelman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola but was just an observer during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. In other words, it wasn’t the “Full Gronkowski.”
That didn’t disappoint Brady too much. As a matter of fact it reminded him of the need to rely on others in the passing game.
“We’re always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there,” Brady said. “If he’s not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that’s a lesson that we’ve learned. You’ve got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You’ve got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up.
“But you’ve got to prepare for both. We’ve had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven’t, but I don’t think the expectations have changed. You’ve still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.”
Still, with Gronk on the grass fields, there was a certain electricity in the air.
“The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we’re going to be,” Brady said. “Everyone is working with whatever situation they’re in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It’s the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it’s just shorts and t-shirts and you’re throwing the ball, it’s about a quarter of the game. So we’re going to see what we’re made of, and we’ve got a lot of big tests ahead.”
That first big test is this weekend when the team gets into full pads for the first time. Next up, are the full scrimmages with the Redskins down in Richmond, Virginia prior to the preseason opener Aug. 7 at FedEx Field.
If Rob Gronkowski isn’t ready for game snaps out of the gate this preseason or regular season, Kenbrell Thompkins figures to get plenty of looks like he did early in 2013, when he hauled in three TDs in the first four games and four scores in the first six games. The second-year receiver out of Cincinnati opened camp Thursday by making two diving touchdown catches on back-to-back corner fade patterns from Brady and rookie Jimmy Garoppolo.
“Yeah, he made some great plays,” Brady said. “I think he’s certainly capable of it. It’s exciting for a quarterback when you see a guy make those types of efforts and lay out and catch the ball like he did. He’s been doing that since he got here, and he’s another guy who’s put a lot of work in and fought really hard. It’s fun to be out there with him. I have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of trust. He’s a great guy. It’s fun to be out there with him.
“He works his tail off, so I think that’s one of his best attributes. There is nothing that has ever been given to him, so it’s great to see a competitor like that. And when your guys make plays like that, it just elevates the rest of the team. Not every play are you going to be open by 10 yards. Sometimes you’ve got to lay out and make the play, and that’s how you get to be a great offense. The plays that maybe are a bit unexpected ‘ if you make those, then it just elevates your whole team.”
Here are the rest of the highlights from Brady on Thursday:
Q: Last year, you had a lot of new guys on offense. Are the expectations higher now that those guys have been through a year? Are some of the mistakes they made no longer acceptable?
It’s about making improvements, and I think it goes from the guys who are newest on the team to the guys who are oldest on the team. I don’t think you ever have it all figured out. You try to come out here and you work hard to put yourself in a good position and to compete, and when you get a chance and you get your opportunity, you’ve got to go out and make it happen. It’s really everybody. There’s nobody that’s immune to it. You’ve got to put the work in. You’ve got to give it everything you’ve got, and like I said, hopefully on a daily basis you continue to make improvements. This game is a very humbling game. You can’t ever think that you’ve got it all figured out. You’ve got to go out there and prove it every single day.
Q: Is there a lot of work to do to get used to this year’s offense as compared to other years? Are there a lot of changes?
TB: There is a lot of work. I don’t think there is ever a day you can take off, especially with the limited amount of practices we have. You’ve got to make them all count. You have to make the walk-throughs count, you have to make the practices count, you have to make the meetings count, and each one of them becomes more valuable the longer you get into the camp because you have less of them. There is really not a play that’s not important, or else we wouldn’t be doing it. I think that’s really a great point of emphasis that all the offensive coaches give us offensive players, that we can’t be error repeaters. We can’t make a mistake today, correct it and then come back and make it again tomorrow because then you’re never going anywhere. You just tread water.
Q: Talk about the competition you’re having with Darrelle Revis in practice and what it’s like having him on your team.
TB: He’s a great player. He challenges us, he challenges the receivers, and it’s nice to go against someone like that. We’ve had great corners here in the past, but he’s a great competitor. Having the chance to compete against him on another team, I certainly appreciate having him on our team.
Q: How have you evolved as a leader over your time here? I’ve noticed you being vocal with a lot of guys during OTAs and here at practice.
TB: Communication is a really important part of the quarterback position. It’s how you communicate, and hopefully I can bring real positive leadership and energy to the team. If the quarterback won’t do it, then who else will? That’s kind of how I’ve always looked at it. It’s fun to be in this position. I don’t ever take it for granted. I appreciate the opportunities that I get. It’s a great group of guys most importantly. It’s the guys who really want to work hard and put the time in and have really made so much improvement over the time that they’ve been here. So you look at a guy like Julian [Edelman], who just continues to get better, and he’s another guy who has really fought his whole career. I’m proud of him and him coming back and getting another opportunity to work with him.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price recap the first day of Patriots training camp, including Rob Gronkowski's return to the field.
[0:00:00] ... Welcome to outside GilletteStadium where 2014. Patriots training camp is officially under way I'm Mike to try out. Joined as always by patriots expert columnist for WEEI dot com Christopher price. All right Chris first day is in the books nine from about 945 to noon. Team got its first workout and -- our Rob Gronkowski was out there indeed. Taking part not in full drills mind you but really an individual practicing drills. With TomBrady and some of the other receivers but no seven on seven drills -- eleven on eleven action he did have a brace ... [0:02:28] ... the first time. This summer let's move on to some other things TomBrady really pointing out in his scrum with us. Talking about a couple of receivers in particular that he was very happy with ... [0:04:03] ... back and I think he's closer to the front end of the receivingcorps. I think it was really interesting today when they brought. I handful of the skillposition guys over to this practice field. When Brady was working with the guys it was federal then it was the Amendola it ... [0:04:57] ... endure on day number one day number two again Friday here outside GilletteStadium will be in shorts and shells. Once again and then though the full training camp practice full -- expected to begin. On Saturday he's first for price -- Mike which rally outside GilletteStadium WEEI dot com. ...
FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork had gone nine straight seasons in the league without missing significant time. He had played all 16 games a year besides 2009 when he missed the final three games of the regular season before returning for the playoffs.
That all changed last year.
On a Sunday night in Atlanta — the fourth game of the season — the 325-pound defensive tackle suffered an Achilles injury, and was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.
The 32-year-old has recovered and is now ready for his 11th NFL season, but with a little more appreciation for the game than prior to his injury.
“I’ve always appreciated the game, but being out last year, it just made me dwell a lot more on things a little bit more, and I appreciate it a lot more,” Wilfork said following the first day of training camp on Thursday. “You think about things a little bit differently now going through what I’ve been through. My first time being injured, but it’s one of those things I had a roadblock in the road — what am I going to do about it?”
Wilfork made it through the first training camp session without any issues and did not seem limited in any fashion.
“I feel fine,” he said. “Throughout the offseason, it was just working hard. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some stuff I may need to do, but so far so good. I’m not looking back, I’m looking forward. I’m just excited being here.”
The defensive tackle reflected back to last season and how tough it was watching from the sidelines, but was able to make it through with the help of his teammates, coaches and most importantly his family.
“With the teammates I have, with my coaches, with my family – that’s a big supporter of mine, my family – just having somebody that you can talk to every day, come and work out every day and have guys surrounding you and just being able to comfort you when times get tough,” Wilfork said. “Just having someone to talk to. I think this team does a real good job of that. Everybody just sending you a text or a phone call or just coming to your house to see how you’re doing – it went a long ways for me, and I really appreciate it from everybody.”
His injury wasn’t the only issue he dealt with this offseason — there was also the matter of his contract, as the organization wanted to restructure his deal to lower his salary cap hit. According to multiple reports, Wilfork felt slighted by the team and asked to be traded. He reportedly went as far as removing his nameplate from his locker inside the Patriots locker room.
After about a month, he agreed to a complicated, incentive-laden $23 million, three-year extension ($4 million signing bonus) in late March. Asked if he needed to re-prove anything because of the injury or the contract restructuring, Wilfork brushed that aside as he’s not one to be selfish.
“I just have to prove I can come out and give my team what they need. That’s what I have to prove,” Wilfork said. “Me as a person, I’ve never been a selfish player; I was a team player. If I wanted to be selfish, I could have been a shot putter. I’ve done that. I was a state champion shot putter, but it wasn’t my thing. My thing was to be with teammates, a good group of guys, and we’re all working toward one goal and that’s to be able to win and push one another. That’s why I chose football. For me to prove anything, no; I have to prove to my teammates they can trust me when the time is on the line. They have to do the same thing with me. It starts now.”
Injury and new contract aside, Wilfork is looking forward to 2014, especially with the new additions the team has on defense in Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and rookie Dominique Easley.
“Every year we try and have a smooth transition,” Wilfork said. “Bill (Belichick) does a good job of teaching guys how we play, how we do things around here, so it wont be hard for those guys to catch on. They’ve done a really good job and haven’t had any problems. Everyone is excited. If you stay excited, good things will happen.”
Tom Brady starts the 2014 season still seeking that elusive fourth ring. (AP)
FOXBORO — Tom Brady is on record as saying that he would like to play into his 40s.
But on the first day of his 15th NFL training camp, Brady discussed his own football mortality after his first practice of 2014 training camp.
“It goes pretty fast, so I just think you appreciate it,” Brady said, just a 10 days shy of his 37th birthday. “There are very few people who have the opportunity that I have, and I’m very appreciative of it. You never know when the last one is going to be, so you just appreciate the moments that you have. Every year, it’s something different. This could be your last training camp; you never know. So you’ve got to make it count, and you can’t take anything for granted in the NFL. I try to do the best I can for this team and hope it leads to a great year.”
Hoping for another “great” year, Brady was on the field working with the receiving corps that figures to be catching the bulk of passes from him this season, including Rob Gronkowski, who was limited to cuts and catching short end zone passes in red zone drills.
“It feels great. I’m excited to be out here with my teammates and working to get better,” Brady said. “It’s a long training camp. I think we’ve got to string a lot of good days together to be the team that we want to be. It’s just going to be a lot of effort, a lot of work. There’s no easy way about it. You’ve just got to grind, put the work in, listen to the coaches, try to make improvements, and hopefully when we start the season we’ll be a lot better of a team than we are now.”
Speaking of Gronkowski, Brady said he was pumped to see No. 87 on the field.
“The more guys we have out here healthy, the better we’re going to be,” he said. “Everyone is working with whatever situation they’re in. You could be coming off injury, [or] you could be coming off a good offseason. Everyone is starting at the same place. It’s the first opportunity to put shoulder pads on, and now the real physical aspect of the sport comes out. In the offseason, when it’s just shorts and tee shirts and you’re throwing the ball, it’s about a quarter of the game. So we’re going to see what we’re made of, and we’ve got a lot of big tests ahead.
“We always try to bring it, regardless of who is out there. If he’s not out there, then we still have to find a way to do it, and I think really that’s a lesson that we’ve learned. You’ve got to try to win, no matter who is out there. You’ve got to try to compete at a high level. When you have great players like that that are on the field, it helps you a lot. Your margin of error goes up. But you’ve got to prepare for both. We’ve had different times over the offseason where certain guys have been in there, certain guys haven’t, but I don’t think the expectations have changed. You’ve still got to go out and execute the play the best way you know how to and try to do it at a high level on a consistent basis.”