Adrian Klemm may be preparing for his fourth season as an NFL player, but as far as he is concerned he is just coming off his rookie season. After a rookie season in 2000 when he played in just five games and a sophomore campaign in which he never stepped on the field, Klemm believes the action he saw in 2002 could be a springboard for his NFL future.
"This was almost like my rookie year," Klemm said last week at Gillette Stadium following a workout in the Patriots offseason program. "I just felt like sometimes I was so far behind everybody else because they had so many years to learn and it was just kind of like I was on the sideline doing conditioning. Shoot, I could probably be an Olympian the way I ran sprints and everything while I was on injured reserve. But you could practice forever and still not be ready for the game. I mean the game is so much different than practice. I mean you actually need to be on the field to get that experience, to actually become a better player. So in some aspects I was a little bit behind, but I think I am catching up fairly fast."
Klemm also realizes that the opportunity he had as a sort of jack-of-all-trades last season on the Patriots offensive line, including two starts at tackle and one at guard in 16 games played, may have been his last opportunity to prove his worth in New England.
"I just kind of knew going in to last year that if I got injured again that that would be it for my time here," Klemm said. "It was just like I didn't have anything to lose. So I just went out and tried to give it my all and just did what was asked of me all season long. Right now I have a little bit more confidence. Actually, I am a lot more confident and I just feel good about myself, my situation and where I am at right now."
But while thankful of his chance last season and the learning opportunities he had in working at multiple positions, Klemm believes both he and the team could benefit from his finding a permanent home on the line.
"I think every team probably has some guy that is like the utility player just in case the team gets into certain situations," the former second round pick out of Hawaii said. "I guess that was my role last year. I think I can contribute a lot more and I think I could be so much better if I could just focus on one thing. But I can't complain. They stuck with me through a difficult time in my career. I know things didn't start off like everybody envisioned or they would have liked things to be, but they stuck with me and they always stayed positive with me and I can appreciate that. So I can't complain about anything. I am fortunate to be in the position that I am in after all that has happened.
"Hopefully I can settle down in one position and stay locked in that. I mean that would be the ideal situation for me. But you can't complain. I go out and do what is asked of me and either way it goes, the games are tough. I still have a lot to learn, but I think it would be a little bit better for me if I could just be at one position."
And regardless of where he is asked to play this season, guard, tackle or utility man, Klemm is now fully confident in his ability. While he felt his confidence waver during his different injuries, through last season's action he proved to himself that he can play at the NFL level.
"I knew I could play at this level it was just a matter of how well," Klemm said. "With me a lot of it has to do with just listening to everything Dante [Scarnecchia, Patriots offensive line coach] and just letting everything soak in when it comes to technique and stuff. Sometimes I can be a little wild. I just have to get all the techniques down and it's just a matter of confidence. As the season progressed and I started getting used to the different things that they were teaching and started learning about different elements of the game, I started getting a little bit more comfortable. I am not where I need to be by any means, but I think I am on the right path."
According to The Seattle Times the Seahawks have matched the Patriots offer sheet to restricted free agent defensive tackle Cedric Woodard. … The Patriots announced Thursday that Don Criqui and Randy Cross will be the broadcast duo for the team's preseason games. New England opens up the preseason schedule at Gillette Stadium against the New York Giants on Thursday, Aug. 7. … With Woodard off the market, various published reports indicate the Patriots may turn their attention to restricted Miami defensive lineman Jermaine Haley.