After two days of practice and countless reps on the field during his brief time with the Patriots,Andrew Walterhas barely had time to learn his way around Gillette Stadium. After Wednesday morning's workout, in fact, he wasn't quite sure where he was headed next – let alone how his acclimation process was going.
"I'm just trying to figure out where the meetings rooms are, where my locker is and where the bathroom is," Walter said only somewhat in jest.
The hectic nature of his arrival aside, Walter was pleased to be a part of the Patriots, even if only for a couple of days after signing Aug. 3.
"There's a great atmosphere here that you can just sense when you're doing the drills, participating in practice, finishing practice with a competitive drill at the end. It's fun to be a part of," he added. "Obviously we're talking about the Super Bowl champions, one of the best quarterbacks in the game if not the best, he plays my position so I have a chance to learn from him and everybody else. It's a great opportunity."
The early returns, considering the circumstances, have been encouraging. Walter is a big man at 6-6, 230 pounds and he has the arm to match. He gobbled up loads of reps over the last couple of days and hasn't looked all that out of place in many of them.
While there have been a few occasions where the timing hasn't been right, particularly on a bomb intended for his old teammates in Oakland, Randy Moss, hiccups like that are to be expected given his lack of experience in the Patriots complex offensive system.
"[The offense] is versatile. There's a lot to it," Walter admitted. "There are options, things you can change. Obviously it's my second day so I couldn't be specific. Compared to what I've done in the past, it's more explosive.
Walter also said there weren't a lot of similarities between New England's offense and the several systems he's been involved with in Oakland. That's what made his presence in the offense so surprising over his first two days in uniform given his lack of time to prepare.
"I've been in a number of offenses in the pros, from Norv Turner's to Greg Knapp's, which is more of a West Coast," he said. "So you just associate the terms you're hearing now with what you've done in the past. Some of that stuff doesn't carry over. There are a few similarities but not a ton."
In terms of where Walter fits into the team's plans, it's far too early to determine. Kevin O'Connellhasn't gotten much action wince Walter arrived, but his place as the No. 2 man appears to be solid at this point. Brian Hoyer, the undrafted rookie free agent out of Michigan State, has been impressive in camp, and after outlasting the departed Matt Gutierrezappears to be in a battle with Walter for the No. 3 spot.
Bill Belichick talked about the acquisition on Wednesday and said Walter had been a player the team was familiar with going back to his days at Arizona State.
"We signed Andrew because we think he's talented player," Belichick said. "We did some work on him coming out of school. We felt like he would be good player to add to our team based on those skills. He's smart kid who delivers the ball nicely."
The raw data on Walter is not pretty – three career touchdown passes against 16 interceptions in 15 career games – but with all of that work taking place on a woeful Oakland team perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that led to the subpar performance.
Belichick stressed the importance of finding out what kind of player Walter is as a Patriot rather than focusing on what happened to the quarterback in the silver and black of the Raiders.
"The most important thing for Andrew is to learn our offensive system and try to execute the plays," the coach maintained. "He's going to get an opportunity to play in practice and hopefully in the preseason games and we'll evaluate him on that. It doesn't matter what he did in college or somewhere else."
Moss seems to enjoy having his former teammate around, despite the reputation that the two didn't work well together during their days in Oakland. Last season when the Patriots visited the Raiders in December, Moss greeted the quarterback with a bearhug before the game, and on Tuesday the receiver playfully knocked the ball out of his hands from behind as the team prepared for practice.
Moss wasn't available for comment on Wednesday but Walter had nothing but glowing things to say about the Pats leading receiver.
"Obviously we had a chance to play together really for one season," Walter said when asked about the chemistry between he and Moss. "He was there my rookie year but I didn't play that year. Just watching how he handles himself. He's a professional, a very smart guy, seeing how he may read a route or a defense [is really helpful]. Obviously to have a smart guy like that around helps a lot."