One day before the start of veteran mini-camp, Patriots players were enjoying a relaxing day at the Belmont Country Club for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation's ninth annual golf tournament. The players were in good spirits, joking around with fans and media, before they get back to work on Tuesday.
Two Patriots who were injured last season – safety Rodney Harrison and center Dan Koppen – were not only upbeat but they both participated in the tournament as well. Harrison actually won the long drive competition when he crushed the ball 302 yards. The veteran said he' feeling really good.
"I've been able to do more than they [the coaches] have asked me to do up to this point," Harrison said. "I don't really want to get into my injury but I'm feeling great right now and coming along as well as I could have hoped for."
Harrison – who has one of the most outgoing personalities on the team – joined us for a few moments while we were taping PFW in Progress (available this Wednesday at noon Eastern time on Patriots.com) and helped handicap the field for the long drive contest.
Like Harrison, Rosevelt Colvin guaranteed victory in the event on our radio show. Colvin was one of the three finalists and finished third behind Harrison and punter Josh Miller but the hard-hitting safety wasn't too concerned about him before the contest started.
"Colvin is terrible," Harrison joked. "He's always telling people how good he is but he's awful. He doesn't have a chance of outdriving me."
Harrison didn't stop there. He also took a moment to grill teammate Corey Dillon.
"Corey has a slice so bad that he'll line up facing the street just so his ball lands in play," Harrison said laughing.
Dillon made Harrison look good when on his second swing during the long drive competition; his ball almost knocked Richard Seymour's head off before hitting a parked car. While his slice generated a lot of laughs - to be fair to Dillon - his first ball did travel a respectable 235 yards.
It was a positive sign that Koppen – who is returning from rotator cuff surgery – was actually healthy enough to play in the event. The starting center is recovering well from his injury but he's not sure when he'll be back on the field.
"I feel good right now but there really is no timetable for my return," Koppen said. "I've been working really hard and I'll continue to do so until I'm healthy enough to get back on the field."
Koppen wasn't happy about finishing second to fellow center Russ Hochstein's group last year and was dead set on winning the event this time out, despite not having played much gold over the last few months.
"Last year I lost on a tiebreaker," Koppen said. "This year I'm gunning for Russ and that title. I haven't played a lot of golf but I've been mentally preparing for this event the past few weeks."
All-and-all it was a fun and entertaining afternoon at the Belmont Country Club. It was nice to see some of the players who were injured last season walking around, having fun and laughing it up with their teammates again. They better enjoy the day of golfing on Monday because Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the team kicks off their veteran mini-camp and it will be back to business as usual at Gillette Stadium for both coaches and players.