Patriots Camp: Camp Begins With Some Questions

Camp reports always tend to feature who was there, who lined up where and what new players are doing on the team. The Patriots have a number of changes on both sides of the ball, yet it's the defense which appears to have the biggest concerns. With the absence of Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour, New England has been forced to work different players into the mix. In this report PI looks at the team's changes on defense, and a few notes about the rest of the team.

Patriots Camp: The Early Days
By Patriots Insider Staff

The early days of training camp have featured a gamut of the usual drills, conditioning and group work. Each unit spends time with their position coaches implementing their various drills to improve technique and rhythm. At various points the units converge to go through team drills with offense vs defense, one of the highlights of camp for most fans.

Taking a look at camp, there are a number of interesting changes on the roster, which have created a buzz in the discussion about the various position groups. We will take a look at the defense by unit and provide some observations of how things are looking.


The presence of Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi has created opportunity for younger players to work into the rotation who otherwise may not have. Veteran's Mike Vrabel and Monty Beisel worked with the first unit inside with Rosevelt Colvin and Tully Banta-Cain working on the outside.

The personnel changed as new players were worked into the mix at various times in the linebacker group. Eric Alexander and Matt Chatham will be getting a chance to show what they can do. In team drills, a loud smack could be heard, as Banta-Cain became a wall on one running play forcing the back to stagger back a step or two at the line of scrimmage.

The unit looks like it's communicating well, making adjustments with their calls and following the signals by the defensive linemen pointing which way to stunt on their rush. Colvin and Vrabel took turns rushing during pass plays, with Colvin showing a nice burst around the corner.

Beisel looked comfortable in the middle, although according to the team, he "tightened-up" and was held out of late practice sessions.

Willie McGinest has not dressed as of the second day of camp, and is tending to an unspecified injury.


The secondary has its moments of success with blanket coverage of the receivers and the ability to quickly fill the hole on runs and short passes. Randall Gay is back along with the rest of the first unit. Duane Starks is fitting in nicely showing that the team may not be up the proverbial creek without former starter Ty Law.

Speaking of Law, Dexter Reid is wearing his jersey in camp.

There are some signs of coverage breakdowns as the receivers run their plays at rookies or guys who are not yet familiar with the defense assignments. That could also be in part that the offense still has the ability to make plays even when the defense has the advantage of knowing most of what will be thrown at them.

Defensive Line:

The line has made adjustments to deal with the absence of Richard Seymour who is officially a camp holdout. Seymour has the support of most of his teammates who declined to voice displeasure that he was not available.

Jarvis Green has seen more time working with the first unit now that Seymour is missing. Working into the mix is Marquise Hill, a player many feel will flourish in Belichick's defense.

The Dan Klecko at linebacker experiment looks to have seen it's final days. Klecko primarily worked with the second unit rotating with Vince Wilfork. Klecko has the type of body that can work well on the interior line. His lack of girth compared to Wilfork could be an issue if he's asked to spend significant amounts of time in the line's interior.

The team is expecting big things from Ty Warren and Ethan Kelly. Kelly is out with an undisclosed non-football injury. He has been placed on the PUP list for the time being. Rookie Santonio Thomas is also looking to break into the group, but will have to work his way past Rodney Bailey among others for a roster spot.


-- The Richard Seymour watch continues. During his press conference, Bill Belichick addressed the questions head on by saying he wasn't going to comment on Seymour until something changes. Belichick went on to inform the media, through his non-verbal signals, that continued questions about the all pro's holdout will not be looked upon kindly.

-- Willie McGinest continues to workout with the team, but has not dressed for camp to this point. Along with other players who have not dressed at times, there is not a significant injury to report. Players who aren't fully dressed in pads and helmet spend time in the bubble working out and getting attention from the trainers.

-- Monty Beisel, Dan Graham, Christian Fauria P.K. Sam are among those who have spent time away from the field.

-- Jarvis Green and Mike Vrabel have both received new contracts. Green's contract was expected given that the youngster was working under his 1-year tender offer. Green spoke to PI earlier this offseason about a number of items including his tender. The team has made a commitment to youth, and the former LSU Tiger figures to be a big part of that.

-- Deion Branch continue to illustrate why he secured the MVP trophy for Super Bowl XXXIX. His ability to catch the ball from quarterback Tom Brady without making a loud slap or thump illustrates his excellent hands. While many slaps and thumps can be chalked up to bad throws, hard passes or receivers misjudging the ball, Branch consistenly catches the ball with a soft whisper as it spins into his hands. Troy Brown is another receiver who has displayed the same quality during camp.

-- First-round pick Logan Mankins is working well with the first unit. He has drawn praise from his teammates, including Mike Vrabel who calls him a real good kid, a "country boy." Mankins looks to be solidly in place at the guard position with Neal, and Hochstein working on the other side.

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