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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Wed May 29 - 04:00 PM | Thu May 30 - 09:55 AM

Patriots Vets 'Get the Ball Rolling' as Offseason Training Begins

A duo of Patriots veterans are helping to lead the way as the team gets underway with their offseason team activities.

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Foxborough - Patriots players returned to Gillette Stadium on Monday as the team got underway with their offseason program that includes mostly training and conditioning for the first few weeks. For the veterans, it was their first chance to not only meet some new teammates but also get a feel for the changes that new head coach Jerod Mayo and his staff have implemented over the last few months.

"It's been good so far, only two days in, but it's exciting, excited to be back, excited to be around the guys. I love this time of year, a chance for us to be around the guys, just building that camaraderie, the team coming together," said Hunter Henry. "I'm excited for this new start, to be a part of that is exciting. I have a lot of pride in this organization, they brought me here three years ago. I always admired Jerod as a coach, as a person, as a player too. I'm excited to be a part of that new change."

Henry signed a three-year contract with the Patriots this offseason as the team quickly moved before free agency to secure the best tight end on the market and one who had already turned in three solid years in New England. With 17 touchdowns and over 1,500 receiving yards in those three seasons, Henry figures to be a key building block as the team looks to remake their offense.

A veteran presence who has often been New England's most reliable pass catcher, Henry told reporters on Tuesday that he was happy to be back with the team and looking forward to building on what he's already established.

"I love this locker room, I love this area, I love this fan base, I love this organization," said Henry, "Things are different for sure, they already are in the building. There are some things we can carry over, and some things we need to change. Obviously, there was a lot of success here and we want to be a part of the next success."

Veteran safety Jabrill Peppers was one of the emerging leaders on defense last season, playing in all but two games and bringing a needed edge to the defense where his hard hits, like the one on Davante Adams in the Raiders game, were tone-setters. Peppers was one of the bright spots when the turnover-needy defense needed to make plays.

Now in his third season with the Patriots, Peppers is expanding his leadership and expressed optimism that the defense, with most of their biggest pieces back in the mix and a pair of starters returning from injury in Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez, will continue to take forward strides thanks to the continuity that exists on the defensive coaching staff.

"This is where you build that foundation for the season, I was anxious to get back," said Peppers. "We're just in here knocking the dust off, getting to know each other, getting to know the strength and conditioning program."

Peppers was vocal about his support for new defensive coordinator Demarcus Covington, who served as the team's defensive line coach for the last three seasons. Peppers said Covington played a key role in his development with the Patriots, something the safety was eager to build upon.

"DC had a huge role on defense last year," said Peppers. "He's a knowledgeable guy, knows the defense inside and out. He spoke about his journey today, there's a lot of things I didn't even know. I'm excited for him. He was very instrumental to my time here, so I'm happy he got the chance, I'm happy I get to play for him and keep building on this thing."

It's only April and the fall start of football is still a long ways away, but Peppers said the foundation is already being set just two days in even if it is too hard to know right now exactly how it will all come together.

"I'm always confident in my guys, but right now it's too early to tell," said Peppers. "Games aren't won in April but you can lose some if you come here and you're not where your feet are and you're just going through the motions. Right now that's all we're worried about, getting back in shape, getting introduced to the new material, getting to know the new coaches, those guys getting to know us and getting the ball rolling a little bit."

Patriots players returned to Gillette Stadium on Monday, April 8, 2024 to begin the start of the voluntary offseason program.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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