Prescott Ennis Burgess.
Sounds like the name of someone who stepped off the Mayflower.
In fact, this Ohio native (who's named after his father) had what seemed to him like just as long a journey as the pilgrims did in getting to New England.
In one whirlwind 48-hour period, Burgess traveled coast to coast and back again. First, he and his former Baltimore Ravens teammates headed to San Diego for a Sunday game with the Chargers, after which they took a red-eye back east. Burgess got home late Monday morning, and by the following evening, he'd been traded to the Patriots and was on yet another flight, bound for Massachusetts.
"It was a shock at first," the linebacker told reporters upon his arrival in the Patriots locker room Wednesday. "I haven't even had a chance to catch my breath from Sunday. That's the game of football. It's a business. Now, I have to make this my home."
The acquisition of Burgess doesn't come as a complete surprise, considering the Pats have lost their starting inside linebacker, Jerod Mayo, indefinitely. Reportedly, New England gave the Ravens a conditional seventh-round draft pick as compensation.
Other media reports claimed that Burgess was on the verge of being release by Baltimore before the Pats came calling.
"I'm not sure how that works," Burgess replied when asked about the circumstances surrounding his transaction. "I just got a call into the office and they said they were looking to trade me. All that matters is I'm on a good defense. That's a plus for me.
I just came from one great team to another and I'm happy to be here."
The Patriots are happy to have another player on the roster to provide support at an otherwise thinning position.
"It gives us a little more depth at linebacker," head coachBill Belichickacknowledged. "He played at Michigan with a couple of our other linebackers. [He] played outside, played inside at Baltimore and also played in the kicking game, so he has versatility ... He runs well, he's a big kid … that's what he's been at Baltimore, that's what he was at Michigan, it's probably what he'll be here."
Burgess and Patriots outside linebackers Pierre Woodsand **Shawn Crable *were Wolverine teammates and it seems there was quite the competition for playing time, particularly between Woods and Burgess. Both players started at outside linebacker for Michigan at various times while their careers in Ann Arbor overlapped.
However, it would appear that the 6-3, 247-pound Burgess is needed more on the inside in this Patriots defense.
"They haven't really told me anything," Burgess said on his first day in Foxborough. "Just trying to get me up to speed. I'm getting into the playbook, and we'll see out there at practice.
"Whatever I've got to do, wherever they put me, I don't know what the coaches have planned for me. I'm just going to do my best to help this team. The more you can do, the better you are. I guess they wanted me enough to trade for me."
Burgess, at this point in his NFL career, is a bit of an enigma. He played in just eight games as a rookie in 2007 thanks to a torn quad, then missed all of his second year with a broken forearm. He had just two tackles in reserve duty in the Ravens' first two games of this season. Burgess insists that he's completely recovered from those injuries and is "feeling great, feeling healthy."
Asked to summarize his skill set, Burgess described himself as "tough, and very learnable. I learn from my mistakes and from the people in front of me. Just go hard every play and try to be around the ball on each play."
It's also possible that Burgess could be of help to the Patriots not just in games, but also in practice, particularly next week, when his former team comes to town. His inside knowledge of Baltimore's system could benefit New England's preparations for the October 4 meeting with the Ravens.
"Yeah, I can give them a little insight to what the Ravens do," Burgess concurred. "And also on the look-squad (a.k.a. scout team) to give the offense a look at the Ravens defense."
Burgess started by giving reporters a quick synopsis of the Ravens defense, which he said hasn't changed since former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan left to become head coach of the New York Jets.
"It really hasn't. They still move around and try to confuse the offense with different looks. And they still come after the quarterback. That's one thing they do is get pressure on the quarterback and confuse him. It's still the same defense."
Blitzing, he added, is Baltimore's calling card.
"That's what they live off of … stop the run and get to the quarterback. They're still doing that."
So, is he anxious to face his former team next week?
"Oh, of course," he said with a smile.
In the meantime, Burgess will have plenty to keep himself busy. Like his new teammate, fellow linebacker Derrick Burgess, for whom the Pats traded with Oakland in early August, Prescott Burgess has a lot of catching up to do if he hopes to absorb the complex Patriots defense quickly enough to make a significant contribution on game days.
"I don't think anything's as complicated as the Baltimore Ravens [defense]," he observed. "They run just about everything. I'll just play football. I think I'll catch on real fast."
That said, Burgess conceded that New England's playbook is a bit intimidating at first glance.
"It's kind of Chinese to me right now. But I'll get it, I'll get it."
Doesn't sound like Burgess will be able to catch his breath any time soon.
Brace yourself, Ryan
When he was on Chestnut Hill, rookie defensive lineman Ron Bracenever had a chance to hit his former BC Eagle teammate, Matt Ryan, who's now Atlanta's starting quarterback.
"No," Brace said with a grin, "wasn't allowed to. I had to take it light on him. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to hit him [Sunday]. When I looked at the schedule and saw we were going to be playing him, I thought, 'Oh, it would be nice to see him.' But we've gotta beat him."
Brace added that he always knew Ryan, last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, was destined for NFL greatness when they were college teammates. Even then, he could tell that Ryan possessed the qualities of a superstar.
"Oh, definitely. You could tell by his mannerisms, especially going back to his work ethic. He's a smart, tough guy. If he sees something wrong, he's going to be one of the first guys in your face to tell you about it. I can say I'm not really surprised.
"Matt's really a professional," Brace continued. "He's always watching film of his opponents. Every time he does something wrong, he gets hard on himself, but he always bounces back. He doesn't dwell on the past. He moves on."
Now that he has an opportunity to study Ryan on film, has Brace learned anything about his old QB – as far as tendencies on the field – that he wasn't aware of before?
"I started watching film yesterday, and I was thinking about that today, too. Seeing if I could find anything. Right now, just seems like the same old Matt – a guy making plays."
He may be the same old guy, but he has a brand new phone number, as Brace found out the hard way.
"I don't have his number anymore," Brace laughed. "I tried to get in contact with him, but I wasn't able to."
The 6-3, 330-pound Brace told reporters that he'd like to have a chance to chat with Ryan again this Sunday and maybe exchange contact info.
"Yeah, hopefully it's on the field …" Brace said, pausing for effect, "after a sack."
Wednesday locker room/practice notes
WR Wes Welkerand LB **Jerod Mayo *were the only players absent from practice on Wednesday. Safety Matthew Slater was on the field, but was wearing a red, no-contact jersey.
The Pats went back to work in full pads, and, as is the custom after a loss, no one was awarded a black, practice-player-of-the-week jersey. Those are doled out only after victories.