PHOTO: New England Patriots' Andy Stokes, bottom, a tight end from William Penn College, stretches with teammates on the first day of rookie minicamp in Foxboro, Mass., Friday, April 29, 2005. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A flurry of activity for a number of players who may never see an NFL field in a game that counts. Patriots' minicamp began on Friday with rookies and draft picks joining the team for their first practice.
Here's an update on what's been going on the first couple days of minicamp which ends on Sunday, when league rules stipulate rookies must be allowed to return home.
Day 1: Friday
The first day of minicamp was a form of orientation into the ways of the NFL for 30 new players that the Patriots are evaluating. In addition to the Patriots seven draft selections from the NFL Draft, the team has 10 undrafted free agents and a13 more players trying out.
The Seven Draft Picks:
Ten Undrafted Free Agents Signed for camp
RB DeCori Birmingham of Arkansas
C/LS Travis Conway of Virginia Tech
OT Mike Lorenz of Wisconsin
FB Kyle Eckel of Navy
FB Matt Phillips of Edinboro
DL Ryan Krug of Connecticut
DL Mike Wright of Cincinnati
LB Andre Torrey of Arizona
S Raymond Ventrone of Villanova
K Robbie Gould of Penn State
Thirteen other street free agents looking to make the roster
The Patriots, as a matter of policy, do not release the names of players they are talking to or those who try out for the team until they're officially signed.
Day 2: Saturday
More drills, although the team skipped the morning practice do to a lack of bodies.
"We are down in numbers a little bit here." Belichick explained. "There's only so much we can get done with this group and we'll just take that out there this afternoon and keep our progression going"
Belichick appeared content with the progress being made in camp, although according to him, there's not much players can do to change their status other than absorb everything the staff is trying to share with them. It can be overwhelming to many players, yet those who will succeed are the ones who work hard at the process.
He went on to discuss how it can be a little overwhelming at times, so they (the staff) don't try to do more with some of the players from the bigger schools like Logan Mankins (Fresno State) Vs the ones from the lesser known programs, such as Andy Stokes (William Penn).
"I think we're pretty much at the same place with everybody," Belichick said. "We're giving them a lot of information, trying to get them up to speed and get them doing some of things that we do."
The team brought in 30 players, yet other programs have brought in more. Belichick indicated it was more of a position decision than a pure quantity decision. "... we have so many spots on the roster and we bring in people that we think would be competitive for roster spots," he explained. "You can't sign everybody. Some places, you have two, three or four guys in for one spot because you are not sure how that is going to go."
The team will conclude minicamp on Sunday when league policy dictates the limit on structured process in the offseason. Rookies and free agents will return home with some of the lessons learned looking to wrap things up at home before they return to Foxboro.
Some roster changes were made on Saturday. Matt Phillips, fullback from Edinboro University was given his release. In addition, the team signed 6 players to the roster.
The team hopes that the players they do sign get their personal issues taken care of before they return. To have a chance to make the roster, they can't be distracted by school work, finances or family matters, they have to focus on the lessons being taught to them in camp.
On what he expects out of his rookie class. We'll give them some material to look at. We'll give them some drills to do. We'll give them some things to work on in terms of training," Belickick explained. "They need to do those and get that underway. They have a lot of personal things (to address)."
Realistically, Robbie Gould, the kicker from Penn State will probably not make the final cut. Teams always bring in extra bodies to make it through camp, but Belichick would say that's the only reason Gould was in camp while Vinatieri waits in the wings. Out side of the odd chance that an injury claims Vinatieri in the offseason, the Patriots are preparing for a "what if" scenario.
Gould also gets an opportunity to showcase his skills for other teams that might need a kicker.
"We had that situation a couple of years ago with our kicker that we released that the Giants picked up, that type of thing," Belichick reflected on kickers having tryouts. "He kicked for them, I think, on opening day or the second week whatever it was. That's what those guys have. They get an opportunity, a chance to play in the National Football League and show everybody what they can do."
The next camp is officially scheduled for June, but Belichick expects to see the players some time in May. Until then, they should be doing their homework.
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