PHOTO: New England Patriot's linebacker Chad Brown (98) calls a play as linebacker Monty Beisel (44) straps up his helmet during the morning session of mini-camp at the teams practice facility in Foxboro, Mass., Friday morning June 10, 2005. Both players are being considered as replacement play callers if veteran linebacker Tedy Bruschi is unable to return to play this season. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
Patriots Minicamp: Day Two
FOXBOROUGH The Patriots continued to install pieces of their offensive and defensive system with players just trying to keep up. Lineup changes were the norm, with individuals seeing time at a number of new positions. When head coach Bill Belichick said it was a teaching camp more than a competitive one, the message was clear; learning was the number one priority.
Newcomer Chad Brown, who signed on with the Patriots as a free agent for 2005, looked better his second day of camp. Brown knew that getting used to a new system after eight seasons in Seattle would be a challenge, but it appeared to be more than he expected. "I understood the terminology would be different but I thought some stuff would carry over," Brown told reporters. "There's no carryover at all. It's a whole new language."
Brown is working with fellow newcomer Monty Beisel to learn the Patriots scheme, which is new for both of them. They study together; learn from each other, and even get tips from some of the veterans like Tedy Bruschi who tries to help them acclimate to their new surroundings.
Brown, who is known for his all out style of play, is not a complete stranger to Belichick. Brown played for the Steelers when Belichick was a coach in Cleveland, and they worked together during the '98 Pro Bowl. The attacking style of play Brown was used to in Pittsburgh allowed him to rely more on instincts in a system focused on blitzes to create pressure on the quarterback.
Unlike the Steelers, the Patriots play more of a complete defense, where the players have greater responsibility for knowing what's happening. This concept, although not unique, was new for Brown. "They attempt to have an answer for everything an offense is going to do to you," Brown said. "Sometimes in the past, we would just say hopefully they won't run that or that's going to be a tough play for us. They don't say that here. There's an answer for everything, and my job is to learn that answer, so I can be prepared for everything."
Brown continues to work on learning the system. His physical skills and style of play are just what the Patriots need in case Bruschi decides to sit out 2005.
In somewhat of a surprise, with the absence of Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi in the defensive huddle, defensive coordinator Eric Mangini has been calling plays in from the sideline to former Kansas City product, Monty Beisel. Beisel has been relaying the plays to the defense.
With Bruschi and Johnson taking time off, the lineup fluctuated often. Willie McGinest, Chad Brown, Beisel and Mike Vrabel all spent time in the mix. Rosevelt Colvin, Tully Banta-Cain and Matt Chatham rotated in on occasion.
Special teams ace Larry Izzo ran the offense for the defenders and played a little quarterback. Although Izzo is left-handed, he tried to do his best Brady imatation.
Are line changes in order? That remains to be determined, but one thing was different on day two of camp, the lineup on the offensive line. Logan Mankins, the Patriots first-round draft choice played some tackle and guard his first two days of camp. Russ Hochstein, Stephen Neal and Tom Ashworth moved into the rotation getting reps with the first unit.
Belichick told reporters not to read too much into the lineup changes as the team will be trying a number of configurations to get through the drills and let the players learn the system. Versatility continues to be stressed in spite of a players draft status or salary. The reserves have to be especially aware of this. "Somebody is doubling up somewhere," Belichick said. "Either your starter has to go to another position, or you have to have a backup that can play multiple spots, however it works out."
Ricky Bryant, Cedric James, Tim Dwight, David Givens and Bethel Johnson sat out for the drills on the second day. James ended the NFL Europe season with an injury, as did Bryant. Dwight continues his rehab and according to reports, Johnson will be ready in time for training camp in July.
David Terrell continues to work his way into the spotlight. Terrell is going about his business learning the system and getting his timing down with his old Michigan friend, Tom Brady. Belichick is pleased with the effort Terrell is putting in. "He wants to know what to do, how to do it, works very hard to do it right or do it the way the coaches ask him to do it," Belichick said.
Whether Terrell can jump ahead of the other receivers remains to be seen, but from a talent level and a work ethic standpoint, Terrell is making all the right moves.
P.K. Sam continues to improve in his second season. His rookie season left a lot of questions unanswered. If he wasn't injured, a number of inside sources think he would have had done well if he kept his head screwed on straight. Ending the season on the reserve suspended list wasn't a good omen.
Sam has managed to climb out of the doghouse, at least for now. Belichick concurs with the assessment. "I think P.K. had a pretty good off-season." Now if he can only continue to work at it.
We'll have more on minicamp, including recaps and in-depth analysis after camp concludes. Be sure to check back regularly as we update the site multiple times per day.
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