Here is a mini update from the Pats training camp yesterday (8/14)…
Almost Football Season. I needed a good excuse to take a day off work, so I planned to take my son and friends to the Patriots training camp in Foxboro next to Gillette stadium. Usually, we would go to Bryant College, but the Pats have moved to the beautiful Foxboro facility. My memories from Bryant college were a fun NFL Experience (kick, throw, obstacles, fun games, refreshments, cheerleaders, friendly players walking by you). Even some old Pats merchandise on sale. I remember picking up a Curtis Martin jersey cheap (of course, he had signed with the Jets at that point). Foxboro could only be better, right?? I checked the website, and it looked pretty organized. (PS. Player info to follow if you get bored by my rant)…
OK, First, the original morning practice was cancelled, so I was ‘forced’ to choose the afternoon option. Not a big deal, practice is from 5-7, I’m over an hour away. I figured I’d get there at least an hour early, play some games with the kids at the NFL experience, maybe there would even be a Madden 2004 promotion going on since it comes out this week. Then have some food, enjoy the sights, maybe see a player walk by and get an autograph, etc. Boy, was I wrong! The Patriots are missing a huge marketing opportunity here. We get to the stadium around 3:30, no real signs, a security guard says practice isn’t til 5. There is no NFL experience to hang out at. No concessions to get a drink/food, no place to watch players hitting the field early. Very unfriendly, so we pass an hour driving around Foxboro and the nearby Wrentham Outlet Mall (I hate malls in general, and this is a big waste of time). Finally, we head back around 4:30, the security guard this time says drive through the back entrance, so we do, and there is lots of help now, we park in the back. There are plenty of helpers (probably high school/college kid summer jobs) all talking on their cell-phones pointing us in the parking direction. Finally, we park our car. No sign of an NFL experience, so we walk down to the gate. Oh my, a HUGE line of people waiting to get in. It was never like this at Bryant College. You just walked in, and grabbed a seat. No place to buy my son a drink either. There is a small tent selling Pats stuff (really over-priced no deals there), and as I’m a wee bit pissed about the whole situation. I’m certainly not going to be donating any more $$ to the people running the show. So, we wait for 30 minutes for the gate to open. Finally, it opens, we luckily grab front row seats near the middle. (Note, there was no real direction to the seating, just sprawl. Some people sat on the hill, we were lucky enough to get bleacher seats). So, then practice begins. Now for the fantasy angles.
Ty Law is one of the best football players on the team. He picked off a Brady pass and deflected another. He was the only guy out there wearing pants too. Yep, Pants. In the muggy, hot weather, either he forgot his uniform, someone played a prank on him, or he likes his baggy pants. Didn’t make a difference. He’s a player. Oh, and Seymour is really big. I’d slightly upgrade the Pats defense based on what I saw.
Offense, Tom Brady is set to have a solid year. He ran a nice play action from the one, and tossed a TD pass to Dan Graham. Then, Fauria caught a beautiful jump ball TD on the same 1 yard drill. In the middle of the field, Dedric Ward, Deion Branch, and Bethel Johnson all ran deep routes and made beautiful catches. David Givens also caught everything thrown his way. In fact, all the receivers with numbers than began with 8 caught their ball. I only saw one drop (and it was more of a bad throw because Law was on the coverage). However, the receivers who began with 1’s – uh oh. First, I didn’t see them make many catches, and second, the 8’s were so good, that the 1’s aren’t going to make the team.
So, Brady is going to have 2 solid TE options, 5/6 solid WR options (Brown, Branch, Bethel, Ward, Patten, and Givens). I’d move him up a little on my draft board, as the Pats practices ALOT of passing plays yesterday. Branch and/or Ward will stretch the field, Brown and the two TE’s will work underneath. Don’t forget about Faulk out of the backfield catching passes too.
So, Brady, Fauria, Graham, and the Pats defense move up slightly on my draft board. Brown moves down a bit as there are alot of solid WR’s trying to catch passes from Brady this year.
That’s it from Wormtown, I have to go kill that damn worm that infested my computer.