And on the afternoon of the ninth day, they rested.
After a Friday morning walk-through under sunny skies on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium – the 17th practice of training camp 2009 and just the fifth workout in anything but full pads – Bill Belichick advised his players that they'd have the remainder of Friday as well as all day on Saturday to get away from football and recharge their batteries.
The team will return to work on Sunday with an eye on both the second half of camp and preseason action that begins next Thursday in Philadelphia.
After what he deemed a "productive week," Belichick thought his team was ready for a break. At the same time, he and his staff will use players' day off to "re-calibrate" where they're at in this still very early point in the team-building process.
"The players have worked hard," Belichick said in his midday press conference. "They've done a good job of pushing through it, staying focused and for this time of year playing a solid level of football as a team considering the number of different parts and people that are working in."
For first-year New England wide receiver Greg Lewis and his Patriots teammates, the time off came as a pleasant surprise.
"This is new to me, getting time off from training camp. It's pretty cool, but I mean it's not a time to get away and just cut loose," Lewis said. "The time is given to get your body back, get mentally prepared for what's coming up for us and to hone in on the skills and the stuff that you've learned so far. And try to bring it back to you when we come back."
Lewis said he planned to fill the day-and-half off with a combination of playbook study, family time and pure relaxation.
"I'm going to take my playbook home and spend some time with my wife and kids and sit there and watch TV and then go read the playbook and then go back and watch TV," Lewis said with a smile.
Bring on Burgess!Newly-acquired defensive end/outside linebacker Derrick Burgess had yet to arrive in Foxborough Friday morning, but his new teammates and soon-to-be head coach already spoke glowingly of the early-August trade addition.
The Patriots completed the deal with Oakland Thursday evening, sending a reported third and fourth round picks in next year's draft to the Raiders, although the latter pick could change to a fifth-round selection if New England acquires such a pick. Belichick acknowledged that the terms of the traded may not be finalized for few weeks, but that assuming Burgess passes a normal physical, he's expected to begin working with the team immediately.
"Very athletic guy. Competitive. Tough. Hard working guy. He has a good playing style," Belichick said of Burgess, describing a guy he spent time coaching at the Pro Bowl following the 2006 season. "I'm sure he'll do what he's done. Exactly what his role will be, we'll determine after he gets here and start working with him and put him in our system. I think he's a pretty talented player. I think he has some versatility. Exactly how all that works out, how it manifests itself, we'll have to wait and see."
Belichick also seemed to emphasize that while Burgess' 47 sacks in eight NFL seasons show his pass-rush potential, the former Eagle and Raider is more than a one-dimensional contributor.
"He's had a lot of production. He's not just a pass rusher. He's a strong player," Belichick said of the 6-2, 260-pounder. "He's not the biggest player but he's a very strong player for his size. He plays with good power and I think he's a good player in the running game. I think he can rush the passer. He's had a lot of production.
"It think he's a good football player. That's why we got him. He's been productive in this league and I expect he will be productive for us."
"It's a huge pickup for us. I can't wait for him to get in here and start playing around him and we'll go from there," Vince Wilfork said, acknowledging that while he doesn't know Burgess personally he's well aware of what he brings to the field.
"I've seen him around the league. I've seen his play and I love it. Hopefully he can bring that same type of play here and help us win some ballgames."
Even Pierre Woods, who'll likely be competing closely with Burgess for playing time on the edge, welcomed the veteran joining what many perceived to be the thinnest spot on the New England depth chart.
"It's good that the guy is on the team," Woods said. "He's coming in to help. That's all that matters. We're coming in here, we're trying to work together, we're trying to win games. That's it."
AttendanceSince it was a walk-through, the bulk of the roster was on the field for the abbreviated Friday morning session. That included guys who have been missing practice of late (Tedy Bruschi, Ryan O'Callaghan, Richard Seymour, Benjamin Watson) and PUP guys (such as Mark LeVoir).
Wilfork nose betterWilfork was on the practice fields for the second straight day, just two days after missing action while his wife gave birth to the couple's third child, David.
"The baby came out real, real healthy. My wife is doing fine. The kids are happy. I'm happy. I'm a little tired, but I can take this tired," Wilfork said with a proud smile. "Everything went well with the birth and a healthy baby boy. I'm looking forward to seeing him now.
"It's a beautiful thing to bring something in the world like that, and to be healthy. I thank my wife every day for it. She was the one that had to carry it. My job was easy. But we're excited. The family is excited about it."
The Pro Bowler then went on to joke that the youngster will be pushed toward the golf course rather than the football field later in life.
"No," Wilfork responded with a chuckle when asked if David, named after his grandfather, was a future nose tackle. "He's going to be a golfer. I'm going to start him early. Stay away from football."
Meriweather warns Hot RodDespite his retirement and move to the so-called dark side as an NBC analyst, Rodney Harrison has been keeping in touch with some of his former teammates. Harrison has been regularly texting with James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather.
That continued tight relationship might make it tough for the former New England defensive captain to criticize his former secondary teammates. For his part, Meriweather is forewarning his mentor about such negative analysis that might be focused on the new-look New England defensive backfield.
"The first time he rips me I think I'm going to call him and say, 'We ain't friends no more. You ain't my big brother,'" Meriweather said with a smile. "But hopefully I won't do anything that's bad enough for him to rip me for."
NotesTaking advantage of some down time during the walk-through, kicker Stephen Gostkowski practiced some field goal snaps with experts in that very trade -- Jake Ingram and Nathan Hodel. … Patrick Chung is now listed as Pat Chung on the New England roster. While the team's media relation made the change this week, the second-round pick said either name is OK with him. "It doesn't matter to me. You can call me Pat, Patrick. I'll take it. Pat Chung. I like how it sounds." … Brady seemed to have a good time on the walk-through field. Wearing his trademark TB12 hat, the returning MVP threw many of his passes underhand during various group reps. … The walk-through ended with an "opportunity" session, with the more established players doing some stretching while the young, unproven types continued to walk through the paces.
Quote of the Day: "There's a glimmer of light. I hope it's not another train." – Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, who opened training camp's double sessions by telling his team there was no light at the end of the tunnel.