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Pats rookies adjusting to NFL training camp life

Three days into Patriots training camp and the rookies have gotten their first real taste of the NFL.

Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones (52) and offensive lineman Cole Strange (50).
Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones (52) and offensive lineman Cole Strange (50).

It's been a productive start to Patriots training camp this summer, with a number of rookies starting to show up in practice as they begin their NFL journies. Assimilating into the league can be a shock to the system, but this year's crop of youngsters are following the tried and true method of maintaining a short-term focus while leaning on the experienced veterans around them to set the tone.

"Definitely taking it day-by-day, practice is where you make mistakes but you go ahead into the film room and correct them," said rookie third-rounder Marcus Jones, who added he's been following around Devin McCourty to know what to do and how to approach things. "I'm just trying to stay on [Devin's] back hip on everything because he's a great person and a better mentor."

After a low-key spring as he recovered from shoulder surgery, Jones has been slowly assimilated into the defense and as a punt returner in the early days of camp.

"It's definitely faster than college," observed Jones. "Just taking it day by day. That's the main thing as things can happen fast, just making sure you stay on top of everything and get in the film room."

First-round pick Cole Strange has immediately jumped in at left guard and so far NFL training camp has been everything he expected it might be.

"I feel pretty good honestly," said Strange following Thursday's session. "I think it's just a matter of, and I'd say it's probably the same for anybody else coming in, just making sure you're familiar with your assignments and not having paralysis by analysis. When you know your play and you don't think about it, you just go... I'm trying to get to that point."

Still, Strange admitted the jump in competition and workload is evident.

"Everybody's bigger, faster, stronger and there's a lot more stuff to learn," summed up Strange.

However, one rookie who shouldn't be surprised by the jump in speed in Tyquan Thornton, who posted a 4.28 40-yard-dash at the Scouting Combine. But even with that speed, the nuance to the receiver position is something to be mastered at the NFL level. During one particular moment earlier in the week, Bill Belichick offered some individualized instruction on route running to Thornton, as the rookie learns how to get open at the highest level.

"I've been learning a lot, I just learned some more today from a lot of guys," said Thornton on Friday. "Great receiver room, guys bring a lot of energy and have got different skill sets. A lot of guys in the room can play ball so it's very competitive."

Despite the presence of a number of proven NFL veterans above him on the depth chart, Thornton hopes he'll be right in the mix as he rounds out his skillset.

"It's pretty obvious that I'm fast, now I'm just trying to fill in all the other areas... strength, route running, contested catches and trying to become a full complete receiver.

With just three days down it's been a good start for the entire class, with Jack Jones and Bailey Zappe also seeing plenty of repetitions. There's still a long way to go, but the class seems ready for whatever is thrown at them.

"I'm doing whatever they want us to do," said Strange. "They wanna slowly ramp up, I'll do that. If they want us to mash our heads into the ground, I'll do that too. I'm just kinda ready for whatever."

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