In today's Boston Globe, Michael Vega discusses Terrell Buckley's return to the Patriots secondary. Buckley, who played for New England in 2001 and 2002, spent last season with division rival Miami Dolphins. "Buckley says he feels right at home. He felt it the moment he walked through the doors of the locker room at Gillette Stadium and was welcomed with open arms."
Vega also details yesterday's visit by NFL League Officials, who spoke to both the team and the media about rule changes for the upcoming season.
According to The Boston Herald's Michael Felger, one Patriot who is less than pleased with the league's decision to re-emphasize the rule on defensive holding in the secondary is safety Rodney Harrison. "It's just more favoritism for the offense," Harrison said to Felger. "That's what this league is about now. Putting an emphasis on something like that really takes the aggressive nature out of the game."
For the second year in a row, The Sporting News has named Boston its Best Sports City. "Over 12 months, stretching roughly from July to July, Boston was the Hub of the sports universe that the Sporting News covers -- a city that celebrated and commiserated, exulted and agonized (again) over a year's most dramatic victories and cursed defeats."
The Providence Journal's Tom Curran reports the Patriots are doing just fine without first-round draft pick Ben Watson. Watson, the only rookie not in training camp, sits at home in South Carolina as his agent, Tom Condon, attempts to work out a deal with the team.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant shines the spotlight on second-year player Dan Klecko, who will showcase his versatility by switching from the defensive line to the linebacking corps. "Never mind Klecko had never really played linebacker before. Never mind that even at a slimmed-down 275 pounds, Klecko, 5 feet 11, would seem to have neither the size nor speed to play the position. Klecko is under contract, and if Belichick asked him to sweep the Gillette Stadium parking lots to strengthen his wrists, he'd do it with nary a question," says Greenberg.
In The Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Ken Powers (no online version) has a feature on Stephen Neal. "The 27-year-old lineman missed all of last season and the final 10 games of 2002 as well, recovering from a shoulder injury that required two separate surgeries to completely repair it," writes Powers. "All the hours of rehabilitation appear to have paid off for the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Neal as he has participated in every practice thus far in training camp, working mostly with the second unit, although Neal has taken some snaps with the first team."
Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger (no online version) reports that Eugene Wilson is ahead of schedule in his return from a groin injury. "Wilson sat out the team's June minicamp and was supposed to start training camp on the sideline," writes McHugh. "Instead, he's been out there right from the start, showing no lingering effects." Wilson, who tore his groin muscle with 6:53 left in the Super Bowl, was a key contributor to last year's team as a rookie. "It's no exaggeration to say that Wilson helped save the Patriots' season, anchoring the best secondary in franchise history, one that set club records for opponents' quarterback rating (56.2) and fewest touchdown passes allowed in a 16-game season (11). The Patriots' 29 interceptions were two off the team record, set in 1964."
The Union Leader runs an associated press article about Ted Johnson. "Linebacker Ted Johnson is one of that select group, which has played in three Super Bowls and won two. He says they've all learned that a short offseason following a Super Bowl is better than a long offseason."
Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle (no online version) says there are many eyes following 12-year veteran James "Big Cat" Williams around Patriots training camp. "In recent years, the Patriots have had bad luck with the free agent offensive linemen they've signed just before the opening of their training camps," notes Farinella. "They've endured three sudden retirements and two more quick releases of players originally thought to have the potential of making major contributions, so it's not a stretch to assume that Belichick, his coaching staff and everyone else connected with this training camp will be keeping a close watch on Williams."