The Patriots passing camp came to an end Thursday with the final session of the four-day workouts. Despite the camp being "voluntary" most of the team's veterans and rookies were on hand throughout the week.
Of the rookies, only seventh-round pick Tully Banta-Cain, a linebacker/defensive end out of California, did not participate. Banta-Cain was not allowed to work out under league rules because his class had yet to graduate. There were a few veterans not in Foxborough, including newcomer Tyrone Poole, who made arrangements with Bill Belichick to work out on his own before signing with the Patriots back in March.
The term "passing camp" can be misleading since it would seem to indicate just the quarterbacks and receivers are practicing. That's not the case as all positional groups were on the field and in the classroom learning the team's system. Basically, the week is a scaled-down version of the full squad mini-camp that begins June 5, with the players wearing just helmets and the pace much slower.
For newcomers like linebacker Don Davis, this time is invaluable as he tries to learn Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense after a career spent playing strictly 4-3.
"For a guy like me this is very important," Davis said after Thursday's workout. "I get to see exactly how everything fits together and I get to see it at a much slower pace, as opposed to a mini-camp or training camp where everything is going so fast, you have two practices and you haven't really even recovered from the first practice. So this is a critical time for me."
Safety Aric Morris, another recent arrival who's been hitting the books trying to get up to speed, echoed Davis' sentiments. "It's basically learning terminology," he said. "Picking up the 3-4 defense, I've never really played in a 3-4 so that's kind of unique. I have to get an idea of which linebacker is blitzing and which isn't so I know where my help is. Little things like that are important to get straight at camps like this."
Perhaps the most encouraging news to come out of the week was Tom Brady's right shoulder appears to be sound. The fourth-year quarterback separated the shoulder in the season finale against Miami and then rushed the recovery period a bit by resuming his weightlifting routine and playing in a celebrity golf tournament before the injury healed properly.
Some rest and rehab appear to have done the trick and the Patriots main man was back throwing during the week. A report in the Boston Globe even indicated that he won the longest throw competition at the Quarterback Challenge last month, an event that will air on CBS July 19 and 20.
Next up for the Patriots is another passing camp June 2-4 followed by the mandatory mini-camp June 5-8. In the meantime, veterans are finishing up their workouts in the offseason program. In order to complete the program, players must take part in 40 workouts, at which point they're on their own. Obviously the rookies will still inhabit Gillette Stadium as they prepare for training camp.