One of the more intriguing undrafted rookie free agent prospects on hand for New England's rookie minicamp is Liberty outside linebacker Vince Redd (6-6, 260). Redd began his college career playing for Al Groh at Virginia. But he was suspended for one game for violating team policy in 2005 and was then reportedly dismissed from the squad along with fellow Cavaliers defender Ahmad Brooks for another violation of team policy in March of 2006.
Redd transferred to Liberty where after sitting out 2006 he had a very productive 2007 campaign playing for former Groh assistant Danny Rocco's Flames. Rocco was an associate head coach with Virginia and linebackers coach for five seasons who also worked under Groh with the Jets in 2000.
Last fall Redd started 10 games for Liberty, registering 67 tackles and a league-high 6.5 sacks. He's an impressive physical athlete having also played basketball for a short time at Virginia in 2003. He's been timed a 4.56 in the 40 and brings an impressive 39-inch vertical to the field.
The defense Redd played at both UVA and Liberty has many similarities to what he'll be asked to do in New England. He's aware that he likely earned a free agent look with the Patriots thanks to his connection to Bill Belichick via Groh and Rocco and is hoping to make the best of the opportunity.
"Them knowing each other, they can speak to each other and see how I play and my character and stuff like that and how I actually work," Redd said before acknowledging that his familiarity with the scheme should help him in the early going. "It's good for me, but I still have to come in here and make my own spot on the team."
After a somewhat tumultuous college career and entering the pro ranks as an undrafted free agent, Redd is hoping his impressive athletic skills combined with some hard work lead to good things at the NFL level.
"There is nowhere to go but up, that's the way I see it," Redd said while admitting that he must work on the "total package" that is the tough job of playing outside linebacker in New England's 3-4 scheme.
Cattouse in the house
Troy running back Kenny Cattouse was among the nine offensive and special teams players in rookie camp on a tryout basis. According to his agent, Andrew Bondarowicz, Cattouse is in New England with the hopes of filling the role of a young, developmental third down back that many thought the team might address at some point on draft weekend.
"We thought it is a good fit for him as a 3rd down back," Bondarowicz said in an email. "He draws a lot of comparisons to Kevin Faulk and would give the Patriots a solid understudy."
What a Drag!
North Dakota State punter Mike Dragosavich was one of the tryout players who seemed to make a good impression in rookie mini camp. On Friday, the lanky, 6-6, 212-pounder showed great technique while booming several punts that hit the ceiling of the Patriots practice bubble before they hit the ground. When a reporter joked with him about trying to break the lights that are suspended from the ceiling, he replied, "I was just trying to have good form and listen to what the coach was teaching me and perform my assignment. And when you do that, you should be able to get good hang time. That's what your goal is, so, that's what I was going for."
"Mike's pretty athletic," Belichick observed. "He's a tall guy, he can generate some leg speed there." Belichick was asked if it more or less difficult to evaluate a punter indoors versus outside in inclement weather. The coach said he was fine with watching kicks indoors, even if they hit the ceiling. "Even though you don't get the full punt, you can see when they're hitting the ball well and when they're not. You can watch the way the punter drops the ball and the way it contacts his foot. You can get a pretty good idea of what you need to work on, and how much work you have to do."
"It's been a great experience," Dragosavich declared after Saturday morning's practice. "Trying to work as hard as I can to get better every single day. I feel like I've been learning a ton and just having fun out here."
Dragosavich also had fun in college, some of which can be seen on YouTube. During halftime of an NDSU basketball game, Dragosavich entertained the crowd with a spirited, five-minute dance routine that his friends videotaped and uploaded to the popular website. He revealed that he made the music mix tape himself from some of his "old-school" favorites, including Micheal Jackson's Thriller.
"It was just something I did, tried to put some smiles on people's faces and cheer some people up," Dragosavich explained. "I just try to live my life by having a good time and be positive about everything."
He said he ad-libbed most of his dance moves in the routine. Asked if any of the other Patriots players had heard about his antics yet, he wasn't sure, but added with a laugh, "I'm sure it'll come up."
Michigan MatesThird-round draft choice Shawn Crable, the 6-5, 243-pound LB from Michigan, was asked Friday what his first impressions were of the New England Patriots. "I look at the Patriot logo, and there's a lot of history there. I'm just trying to be a part of it," he answered. Perhaps he already feels at home, thanks to fellow Wolverine alum Tom Brady, who's back at Gillette Stadium working out.
"I talked to Tom yesterday and today," Crable revealed. "Obviously, I'm from Michigan, so he talked to me and joked around a little. He's a good guy. He was in the training room, just got done working out. He just gave me some advice about what to expect [here in New England] and how to handle myself, take care of my body when I get aches and pains, and other things he's learned in his years in the NFL."
Crable also sounded excited about meeting and working with such Pats veterans as Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, and Adalius Thomas. "It's an honor to learn under them. You get a chance to learn under them and pick their brains and see what they know, and just buy your time till it's your chance to play."
What Mayo had to say-o
When he arrived here on Thursday, first-round pick Jerod Mayo acknowledged that it hadn't really hit him that he was a Patriot just yet. After all, he'd just arrived in New England and hadn't even checked into his hotel at the time. But after his first practice Friday morning, reality set in quickly.
"It definitely has. Putting the helmet on, it's hit me. I got a lot of work to do to be at this level, and I'm ready to work. It is complicated [the defensive system in New England]. There are a lot of adjustments. It's a very complex system. Just gotta go to the meetings every day and get better. I'm going to learn everything I need to know to be on the field, and the coaches to an excellent job teaching, so I'll just come out here everyday and get better." Mayo was assigned jersey number 51.
Notes and QuotesRedd, who said he'd already crossed paths at Gillette with Bruschi, delivered the quote of the day when asked whether he was the kind of guy who gets star struck. "If you get star struck you'll be sitting back home watching the stars on TV." … Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite left the field late in the morning workout. He spent the final few minutes of practice on the sideline drinking water and talking with Jim Whalen and the rest of the Patriots training staff. … … Linebacker Gary Guyton, a 6-3, 242-pound free agent out of Georgia Tech, played both the inside and outside linebacker spots on defense during camp. Like the other rookies, Guyton said afterward that he's just going to play "wherever the coaches say." … Guyton, by the way, is a distant cousin of former Patriots safety Myron Guyton, and tight end Jonathan Stupar from Virginia is the nephew of former NFL QB Jeff Hostetler. … Patriots special assistant/secondary coach Dom Capers was making his New England debut this weekend, spending much of his time working with Wilhite and impressive second-round pick Terrence Wheatley. "It's good to have him," Belichick said of Capers. "I think Dom is a good fundamental coach and this is kind of a fundamental weekend. I think that's certainly coming out. He's got a lot of great experience. Just watching him coach, fundamentally, it's good. It's good to have him. It's a good addition." … Various rookies got pretty well chewed out by some of the New England coaches at different points in the two days of practice. "I think we demand a lot of the players here," Belichick said. "There is a lot at stake. It's what we all do for a living. It's not a hobby." … Belichick said he would likely make decisions about the tryout players by Monday.