Now, it feels like training camp.
Full pads were the directive today as the Patriots took the field for the third straight day to open 2012.
“Today will certainly add a new dynamic with pads,” predicted player personnel director Nick Caserio shortly before today’s session. “So, there will be a few more things in play, a little bit of live contact. We’ll go out there this afternoon and hopefully have a good practice.”
That they did.
Language in the new collective bargaining agreement dictates that the first couple of days of camp be in light or no padding. The energy level on the field – and among yet another capacity crowd of fans – amped up considerably as a result.
The fiercest hitting came during o-line/d-line pass rush drills and running game drills featuring centers, guards, and tackles squaring off against defensive tackles, ends, and linebackers, with a QB handing off to a back. The collisions heard during those blocking encounters were intense, with coaches barking from both sides of the ball to encourage the game-like simulation of full-speed action.
Of course, with the increased collisions came some expected results: a greater number of players needing medical attention.
With about an hour left in practice, All-Pro tight end
The news wasn’t so good, however, for undrafted rookie defensive end
Unfortunate as those injuries are, they are a fact of life in football and in training camp, and a necessary evil for the coaching staff to determine which players can do the job, and which can’t.
“I think the first few days when you’re in shells or when you’re in the mini-camps, the big emphasis is the individual techniques, the fundamentals as it pertains to your position, playing on your feet,” Caserio explained. “Obviously when you put the pads on, you start to get into the physical dynamic of the game and that certainly comes into play, whether it’s in the running game, hat and hand placement on the offensive line, playing with good technique defensively, shedding blocks, getting off of blockers, etcetera, being able to handle contact if you’re a receiver in the secondary when the ball arrives.
“More than anything, just the sheer weight of the pads, it’s certainly different from anything we’ve done to this point so I think you have to get yourself, your body, acclimated to having the pads and the speed that goes along with it. There’s just another jump that you take relative to what you’ve done during the offseason, just training-wise and then mini-camps and obviously here into training camp.”
Mammoth offensive lineman
“You need it… to get ready for the season,” he said afterward about the physical nature of today’s practice. “It was a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
The second overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Gallery was projected to become Oakland’s franchise left tackle, but he never quite made that move from guard, and so farm remains in that spot here in New England in his ninth NFL season.
“You know, I’m just here to work on my skill, get better every day, and do what I can do to help the team,” he remarked about his role with the Patriots thus far. “I’m excited to be here with this team. I’m ready to get things rolling… wherever they put me, I’ll take snaps.”
Gallery should benefit from the expertise of his new position coach, long-time Patriots assistant Dante Scarnecchia.
“He demands a lot, like a good coach should,” observed Gallery. “It’s been enjoyable working with him so far. He pushes us to be the best, like he should do.”
Sell: Justin Francis – A surprise contributor during the spring and early days of camp, this undrafted rookie suffered what looked like a severe leg injury late in practice. He had to be carted off the field.
Play of the Day:
…Pro Bowl right guard
…Eight other players remain present for practice, but not in uniform. They include o-linemen Logan Mankins,
...For more details from Saturday's practice, please visit the PFW Blog.