Veteran players like wide receiver Nate Washington aren't generally fazed but much during the latter stages of their career. But when the idea of playing for the Patriots first arose, Washington's initial thought was that he was going to a team that did things a bit differently.
"Anytime I've had the Patriots on my schedule I knew it was going to be a tough week for the simple fact that every single team is going to be hardworking and very challenging," Washington said during a conference call on Tuesday. "They were going to do their homework on the team that they were facing and understand how they were going to go about beating them and it was a difficult time because when you're preparing against a team like that you kind of have to go and look at your flaws.
"So when I would ever play against New England I knew right then and there that I was going to have to be willing to work a full 60 minute game, I was going to have to be very intelligent on my opponent that I was facing, and I was going to have my work cut out for me. It was a varied situation every single time but I knew that I was going to have to bring my lunch pail to work because that team was definitely going to be a hard working group of guys."
Washington signed a one-year deal worth a reported $1.065 million last month and will compete for a spot as an outside receiver in New England's offense. He may have understood the Patriots weren't like most teams, even admitting that his experience with Texans coach Bill O'Brien'soffense last season in Houston doesn't necessarily mean he understands the Patriots way of doing things, but it wasn't until a conversation with Patriots Hall of Fame linebacker Willie McGinest did he realize he may be entering the best situation of his 12-year NFL career.
"I had a chance to talk to him a couple of weeks ago, once he found out I signed, and the No. 1 thing he told me is 'It's going to be good for you, because they're going to pay attention to the detail and they're going to get you in the aspect of making sure you're pushing yourself every single day. Those guys work hard every single day and don't take a day off. Those coaches, they work hard every single day and don't take a day or a minute off,'" Washington said.
"To be in that type of atmosphere gave me some type of understanding, especially at not only this point of my career but this point in my life, to what I needed. I needed a bunch of guys that were going to make me better. Although I'm 32 and although this is my 12th year in the league, I do feel like I can get better physically and mentally. And I needed to be around a core of guys that can push me to that point. His advice pretty much summed up what I've been hearing from everybody."