No more hide-and-seek for Asante Samuel.
On Tuesday, the New England Patriots cornerback greeted reporters as they arrived at his locker inside Gillette Stadium. The crowd appeared to be even bigger than the previous day, when the media had camped out at the same spot, but Samuel failed to show.
One of the first questions Samuel fielded was whether or not he'd be ready for action on opening day versus the New York Jets next weekend.
"I don't know," he replied. "I'm just going to work hard and see where we're at."
Samuel, however, has yet to practice with the rest of his teammates since reporting back to the Patriots on Monday. On Tuesday, he again was not on the practice field when the team came out to stretch shortly after noontime.
Regardless, head coach Bill Belichick reiterated at his daily press conference that he's pleased to have his franchise-tagged corner back on the team.
"I'm glad he's here. I'm glad we got things worked out, and I'm looking forward to working with him. We drafted him four years ago, he's been a very productive player for u, and I'm glad it all got worked out."
Despite signing his one-year franchise tender for $7.79 million, Samuel's not taking for granted that he'll be the starting left corner when the coaches determine he's ready for contact. He said he feels he needs to work hard to reclaim the job that helped him lead the league in interceptions last season.
"Of course. You always have to earn your spot."
His current conditioning level was brought up during the exchange with reporters.
"I did my normal workouts during the offseason and just kept it going," was how the 5-10, 185-pound corner described his regimen during his absence from the team.
He also admitted that the protracted absence wore on him a bit.
"Yeah, especially when you watch the games on TV," Samuel explained. "I'm here now and I'm happy. I love my team … I kept in touch with them this whole time. I'd love to be here for the rest of my career."
Why return now?
"I just felt it would be good to get in as soon as possible," he responded, but refused to elaborate on whether he could have signed the same contract and been in camp from the beginning.
What did he learn from his time away?
"I just learned to be patient, pray about it, and put it in God's hands."
When he was through playing 20 Questions with reporters, Samuel insisted he's only interested in one game now.
"We worked it out. Both sides are happy. I'm ready to play football."
The Patriots had to trim their roster to the league-mandated 75-player limit Tuesday, but they only needed to make one cut to get there. OL Chris Patrick was released, while fellow rookie CB Mike Richardson was placed on injured reserve.
WR Troy Brown, WR Chad Jackson, and CB Eddie Jackson were placed on the Reserve/PUP list, meaning they're not eligible to play until at least Week 6 of the regular season. They previously had been on the Active/PUP list, from which they could have returned at any time.
Tuesday practice notes
S Rodney Harrison was a surprise no-show during Tuesday's practice. Rookie DL Kareem Brown was also among the dozen or so players who were not seen on the field.
The Patriots will conduct a walkthrough practice session on Wednesday, in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Giants.