FOXBOROUGH - Patriots training camp may still be a month away, but Tedy Bruschi was in midseason form while running through drills at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday.
There was one small difference, however. This time, Bruschi, himself, was wearing the coach's whistle around his neck and was leading the instruction during his second annual youth football mini-camp in partnership with the Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts (SBLI).
Fifty-four lucky local children, between the ages of 7 and 14, were chosen to participate in the event via an essay contest in partnership with the Massachusetts Teachers Association, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Public Schools. The children were asked to write about their game plan for being healthy and doing their best in school.
Other participants were granted their chance to shine on the Patriots' home turf by several area non-profits, including Camp Harbor View, American Stroke Association, Home for Little Wanderers, AccesSport America, Boys and Girls Clubs of Woburn and Lawrence and the South Shore and Worcester YMCA, among others.
"These are smart kids out here and they've had to earn it," Bruschi said. "I'm very excited to do this, to get to work with these kids at Gillette Stadium, on home turf. So it's exciting for them, too."
Bruschi was joined at the camp by SBLI president Robert Sheridan and several of No. 54's Patriots teammates led the campers through the drills. Place kicker Stephen Gostkowski, linebacker Jerod Mayo, tight end David Thomas, safety Ray Ventrone and former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak leant their expertise to the youngsters.
"There are a lot of football camps out there where kids puts the pads on and hit and a lot of kids get into that," Bruschi added. "But the age group, where they are right now, I think fundamentals are important. I think to be successful you have to have proper fundamentals. Jerod [Mayo] is going to teach them how to tackle. [Zolak] is going to teach them how to throw. [Gostkowski] is going to teach them to kick. How many chances do you get to get a kicking lesson from a Pro Bowl kicker? That's something I'm very happy about."