Preparing for Camp
By Scout.com Staff
FOXBOROUGH The Patriots and Tedy Bruschi prepared for the decision that the 10th-year linebacker finally announced last week -- that Bruschi would sit out the 2005 season while he continues to recover from the mild stroke he suffered in February.
While the announcement wasn't a major surprise, it came on the heels of a New England Cable News report that cited a source claiming Bruschi was 90% certain to play in 2005.
The energetic linebacker began preparing for this possibility soon after he suffered the stroke when he, for the first time in his career, hired an agent to represent him and to make sure he knew of his rights under the collective bargaining agreement as well as the financial issues that sitting out may raise.
The team also planned for Bruschi's loss when it signed free agent linebackers Chad Brown and Monty Beisel and drafted UNLV's Ryan Claridge. Now it will move on without him in 2005 all the while including him in team activities.
"All offseason, we have seen and felt Tedy's strong and upbeat presence," coach Bill Belichick said. "As usual we will keep the focus on the short term and address the future in due course."
The future remains unclear for Bruschi, but he did not retire, leaving open the possibility for his return in 2006. He has, as Belichick said, been an active part of the Patriots offseason. Brown and Beisel both noted in June that Bruschi was in meetings and helping them learn the nuances of the Pats complex defense.
For the Patriots, the future is now as they open training camp looking to become the first team in NFL history to win three straight Super Bowls, something Belichick said is "the furthest thing from his mind right now."
Instead, he has to acclimate two new veteran linebackers in his defense, where they will rotate inside with the oft-injured Ted Johnson, who played 16 games last year for the first time since 1997.
While Bruschi's loss leaves the Patriots without their inspirational leader in the front seven and a clutch playmaker, the club has proven it can overcome the loss of just about any player outside of perhaps quarterback Tom Brady.
Last year, the defense played without starting cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole for the last 12 games of the season, including the playoffs, and went 11-1 during that time. Three of those wins, including two in the postseason, came without star defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who injured his knee in December but returned for the Super Bowl.
In fact, the Patriots used 40 different starters last year and 42 in 2003 and still managed to become the first team to post back-to-back 14-2 Super Bowl championship seasons.
CAMP CALENDAR: Veterans report July 28 and camp practices open to the public July 29.
--Richard Seymour has remained quiet since skipping the Patriots mandatory June mini-camp and could quite possibly stage a training camp holdout as well to express his continued dissatisfaction with his current contract.
Seymour has no leverage in obtaining a new deal with two years left on the six-year pact he signed as a rookie beyond withholding his services. But the Patriots rarely acquiesce to being held hostage by a player's strong individual stance.
Seymour has been a team player and a leader during his four years in New England, but this is business and since he's scheduled to make only about $2.7 million this year and more than $4.5 next year on a deal that will ultimately average more than $3 million per year over its life, he might decide that taking a stand of this nature might be his only recourse.
The Patriots aren't likely to go to the bargaining table if Seymour sits, which could make such a stand useless. In that case, Seymour would have to sit through Week 10 before reporting for the final six weeks to accrue a season toward free agency.
But if he reports to camp and then decides to walk out because of the slow pace of any negotiation, the team would hold all the cards and could place him on the reserve/left camp list after notifying him and giving him five days to return. A failure to return in that case would cost Seymour the season and his contract would not toll, meaning he would still have two years left on the deal, which would then run through 2007.
--DE Ty Warren was arguably the Patriots most improved player last year and Belichick confirmed that Warren had another strong offseason. The third-year pro out of Texas A&M was mostly a two-down player in 2004 and is hoping he can prove worthy of staying on the field on third down. Jarvis Green typically replaced him in passing situations and that is likely to remain the case at least through the early preseason games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "My family and I are worried about my health and we're just making sure I'm getting better and that's the only thing we're focusing on right now." -- LB Tedy Bruschi at the team's June 12 ring ceremony.
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