The first day of the Patriots Training Camp started out warm and drizzling is an important one. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork made a brief, but noteworthy statement. "We've got to start all over," he said. With bare walls in the locker room and fresh talent on the field, this start to training camp could be the most important.
Key Observations -- on the players' first day back at Gillette Stadium:
Starting LG Logan Mankins continued his holdout for a new contract. LB Derrick Burgess is reportedly mulling retirement. The team hasmany new faces at key positions, including the rookies who hope to have an immediate impact.
Filling The Void
With Mankins missing, Nick Kaczur moved from tackle to left guard to fill the void. Kaczur's inexperience playing the guard position raises new questions about the offensive line. The key question is; how much of camp Kaczur will have to remain in that role?
Other players that were not present on day one were Wes Welker, Sam Aiken, Ron Brace and Darnell Jenkins. Welker was seen working out on his own, just not participating due to being on the PUP list.
It Could Be Over For Burgess
Derrick Burgess' contemplation of retirement creates an even bigger challenge for Bill Belichick at a position that already had questions about the talent available. Last year's poor defensive performance in the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens highlighted this vulnerability. Tully Banta-Cain was the main defensive contributor at the outside linebacker position during the 2009-2010 season, but Burgess played a key role and was praised for his contributions by Belichick.
The Patriots rookies were in full force on day one. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez showed promise in revitalized tight end position. Gronkowski's size proved to be an advantage after making a catch over a defender and Hernandez's crowd pleasing touchdown catch were highlights of the day. Devin McCourty and Taylor Price participated in kick returns with second year receiver Julian Edelman.
Belichick Preaches Fundamentals
Bill Belichick emphasized the importance of making each training camp day as effective and productive as possible. In his opening press conference, Belichick talked about the importance of practicing well.
"I certainly can't remember a good season I have ever been a part of that wasn't also part of a productive training camp and preseason, Belichick said. "I think those things go hand in hand."
Patriots training camp continues tomorrow (Fri) with two sessions slated for 9:30 and 3:45pm
Kisha Tapangan is a contributing writer for PatriotsInsider.com She also maintains her personal blog Necessary Roughness and can be found on Twitter @KishaT. Be sure to check in all camp long for regular updates by Kisha from Foxboro