Foxborough, Mass. - Day two of training camp began under the same heated conditions as opening day - hot and sunny. The players warmed up in front of a large crowd as fans packed the bleachers and sat on the hill overlooking the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. It was the nicest part of what was destined to turn into a wet sloppy affair.
Practice began calmly enough with players going through the typical pre-practice stretching routine, and working on their individual assignments. Then, once stretching was complete, off they went to the regular unit practices.
For those who have never been to a training camp, here's a brief description to give you the basics of what happens:
The team takes the field at the designated time. Typically units break out into various areas on the field going through some preliminary drills. After the whole team has emerged from the locker room, the players go through a series of warm-ups, including stretching. Once the warm-ups are complete the team will alternate between individual unit drills and team drills. Those periods are timed and a horn will sound between sessions. At the conclusion of the practice, players will head back to the locker room for more meetings and instructions. Some will make their way to the bleachers and the hill to sign autographs.
Practice went as it typically does during minicamp, with a little bit of excitement for the crowd during team drills. In the middle of the morning session's team activities, the players ran a series of running plays. During the drill, both offense and defense line up to practice certain situations. Today it was running up the middle and off-tackle. Eight times out of ten, the players run the drill with a little bit of hitting and shoving. This time things were different.
Setting the tone for the intensity level, inside linebacker Tedy Bruschi put a couple of solid hits on the running backs as they ran through the line. The player receiving the punishment was first-round draft pick Laurence Maroney. Although both players shrugged off the contact, it drew the attention of the onlookers.
"This is no joke, this is serious business," Bruschi remarked about the practice intensity. "It's not something where young guys are supposed to get looks."
Certainly Bruschi made his point when he put a whack on the rookie. Yet he wasn't the only veteran stepping up the intensity level. For the first time since last season, Corey Dillon dialed up his intensity meter and ran with authority. He delivered his own hits to would-be tacklers who tried to stop him with halfhearted - but safe - tackles.
Dillon, likely motivated by all the attention Maroney has received, banged into the defensive line and linebackers play after play. Rarely did he take a play off until it was time for his squad to let the second unit get their reps. The team took notice, as well as the crowd, cheering Dillon on after each clash of his pads into a defender.
From being described as lazy, old or even a guy who was taking plays off during minicamp, the training camp veteran made his presence felt.
Bruschi took notice, with approval.
"I see him running hard, which is good" Bruschi said of Maroney. But I see Corey Dillon running hard too. If there's anything I'm excited about this year, it's seeing Corey Dillon run. He was one of my favorite running backs before he came here, you know to watch. The power running style he had. To see him do that again for us I'm excited about."
If the way Dillon is running in camp is any indication, the Corey of old is back. He's running with a chip on his shoulder again. And that's a good thing for the Patriots offense.
Insiders Extra: Bruschi talks about camp intensity --
At one point during practice, the weather turned, dumping a load of light rain on those in attendance. Although many fans ran for cover, the players remained on the field working through the slick conditions.
Camp was well attended again by the fans, even after the brief rain.
There were more newsworthy items to report including; a leg injury to DL Marquise Hill, a Dan Koppen sighting, a sloppy performance by a Matt Cassel led offense in the two-minute drill and more. Read about these and more in the Patriots Insider blog.