Two of the Patriots top four 2000 draft picks were not on the field Saturday, the team's second day of a mandatory mini-camp that runs through Sunday. Running back J.R. Redmond, a third-round pick, and tight end Dave Stachelski, a fifth rounder, both missed the workout because of injuries.
Redmond was checked out by doctors with some groin soreness Thursday and according to Head Coach Bill Belichick, underwent minor surgery on the area Friday night. Stachelski, meanwhile, went to Seattle for a second opinion on his balky knee and will have surgery out there Monday.
Belichick classified both surgeries as minor and expects the players to be ready for training camp. 'These are both pretty minor things," Belichick said. "The feeling is just to get them taken care of now. If this was the regular season we would probably wait until the end of the year, but based on the timeframe, everybody feels it's best to get it taken care of."
Belichick realizes that the missed mini-camp practice time will delay the players' progress, but called it the lesser of two evils. "We certainly don't want them to miss time later in the year. But the time becomes more valuable as we get into the season. We don't want them to miss time now either, but it's the best we can do."
Two other Patriots were excused from the Saturday workouts. Cornerback Ty Law had a conflict that he told Belichick about when the coach was hired. Belichick excused him along with cornerback Antonio Langham, who left town to serve as a pallbearer in good friend Eric Turner's funeral. Turner, the former Cleveland Brown and Oakland Raider defensive back died recently of abdominal cancer. Langham used to spend a month every offseason with Turner, whom he credits for helping him adjust to life in the NFL.
Group work continues
Belichick has coined "group work" as the theme for the mini-camp, choosing to wait until training camp to get more focused on individual technique. "The more things we can involve everybody in, the better," he said following the first of two Saturday practices.
In that vein, he said the afternoon practice would be dedicated to getting everyone involved in the flow of a game situation. The team will substitute offensively and defensively on the fly while also calling plays, working on communication, using the 40-second clock and getting the kicking teams on the field.
Checking in with Bishop
The Michael Bishop talk reared its head again. Asked if he has started to work with Bishop at another position other than his normal quarterback spot, Belichick responded, "I hadn't planned on it right now. Everybody pretty much as their hands full learning the positions they're in." It seems to me that Pete Carroll used to answer that question in a similar fashion.
Not worried about Harris
Belichick isn't worried about Raymont Harris regaining his form after a year out of football. In fact, he stressed that he didn't see much downside in signing the veteran back, who was recovering from a broken leg last year. Belichick likes his toughness, his production when healthy as well as his physical condition.
"There are circumstances at every position where, for whatever reason, [a player's] career doesn't go in a straight line. It takes a dip and comes back up. I've seen a lot of that," Belichick said when questioned about Harris. As an example, the coach offered O.J. Anderson, who wasn't very productive for the Giants in 1989, but emerged as the Super Bowl MVP in 1990 when he carried the Giants rushing attack.
Keeping the eyes peeled
With some veteran players hitting the market as post-June 1 cuts, the Patriots personnel staff has its antennas up looking at who becomes available and evaluating each on an individual basis. Of course salary demands will be a huge factor in any move the Patriots make. In fact, New England will likely have to cut a player or two before signing its own draft picks, never mind a free agent. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if the Patriots do a little more bargain shopping before the July 17 start of training camp.
"I could go in there and look at [personnel director] Scott Pioli's board of all the players who aren't with a team and put together a decent team with that group," Belichick said. "We all can see players who aren't with teams that have played in the league that we all think will play with somebody this year. How it works out with the various teams and various players remains to be seen."
Here and there
Cornerback Kato Serwanga worked with the first unit opposite Tebucky Jones and in place of Law. He had an up-and-down day, however, getting beaten badly on a deep route by Vincent Brisby, but made an outstanding diving pass break-up in the end zone during red zone work on a pass from Drew Bledsoe to Terry Glenn … Bledsoe is seeing almost all of the repetitions with the first offense as he tries to gain a grasp of Charlie Weis' system … in addition to doing red zone work for the second straight day, the team worked on third downs … Belichick said the focus of the practice was blitzing, adding that they had 55 plays designed to help the defense work on getting to the quarterback and the offense picking up the blitzes; it looked like the defense had the upper hand during that period of practice … the team will conclude the mini-camp Sunday at which time all players who have reached their offseason workout quote are free to leave town until the July 17 start of training camp.