Well, you may/may not know, but I did go to Patriots training camp yesterday (their third day of practice). I must say, it was a very new experience but I loved every minute of it. Check this article out for some of my pictures and tweets during camp.
My good friend and I made the long journey from our town in central New Jersey. We are committed Patriots fans living in the middle of Giants, Jets, and Eagles territory. However, we love our team and will continue to do so for as long as we live. After starting at 4 in the morning, we arrived at Gillette Stadium at around 8:15 and were waiting with thousands of Pats fans for the adjacent practice field gates to open. As per the Patriots’ official twitter, my friend and I were 2 of these many fans at camp –http://bit.ly/1khvsap
Impressive crowd for a practice day, right? Since we didn’t arrive as early as what we were hoping for, we couldn’t get front row seats bleachers, however we were only a few rows up. The view was excellent in my opinion.
This was my first ever Patriots training camp so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ll be honest, from about 9:30-10:15, I was pretty bored because most of the drills were either conditioning or simple passing drills. Then it got interesting when the players decided to execute some creative plays.
Whether the quarterback was Tom Brady or Ryan Mallett (or even at rare times, Jimmy Garoppolo – who hasn’t been impressive at camp), the throws that were made to the receivers (the most prominent in my opinion were Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola) got ooohs, ahhhs, and a loud applause from the crowd. If Rob Gronkowski was feeling healthy enough to take part in contact drills (which he did not do today), we would probably be jumping up and down like little kids after they get ice cream. Deep balls, flea flickers, slant passes – you name it. Though they sound standard, they certainly looked a lot different than usual. But it was just an awesome feeling to see the Patriots take some risks with these plays and, as a Patriots fan, this is noteworthy for me because that shows how this offense is willing to change up their style if it means winning games by scoring more points.
While I praise the offense for their effort, I must say, the defense stole the show. I was impressed by Brandon Browner’s physical play even though he might resemble a skeleton (seriously, how can one be that strong when not that big??). The Patriots need someone like that in the secondary. In addition, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo, though they didn’t go all out since recovering back from their respective injuries, both looked nearly 100%. While the Patriots defense was collectively dominant, one name stood out the entire day: Darrelle.Revis.
For fans who couldn’t see his #24, it wasn’t a problem because his neon green cleats were the only ones of that color in the sea of white cleats, and that kept everyone up-to-date about Revis’ performance on the field. He kept up with every receiver on the field, making it difficult for them to make catches. Often times, he would swat the ball away from a receiver with passion. His football sense really impressed me today and the icing-on-the-cake was when he was able to intercept Brady not once, but twice! Not to mention that Brady was aiming for Edelman in both situations (who many corners believe is a difficult receiver to cover man-to-man. Revis almost made it look easy). To put it brief: He is a monster and I am so glad New England has him. It may take a while for Patriots fans to get used to him in this jersey but we are blessed. Not only is Darrelle Revis supposed to be Aqib Talib’s replacement, he’s definitely 100x better. I kindly appreciate that upgrade.
The Patriots ended practice with a simulated 2 minute warning drive. However instead of seeing them play out a game-winning touchdown, we got to see Stephen Gostkowski practice game-winning field goals from various distances. I believe he hit them all. The special teams overall did pretty well (clean punt returning, strong punts by Ryan Allen, and sharp FG kicks by Gostkowski).
After some final stretches and springs, the Pats called it a day after 18 drills. Some fans were lucky enough to get autographs by Bolden, Mallett, Brady, Ridley, and others (I was lucky enough to have Mallett sign my hat).
Regardless of whether fans got autographs or not, they were heavily impressed by the Patriots today. One thing we wanted as fans was to make sure that there was no drama focusing on one player (like how there is for RG3 at Redskins camp). Sure enough, we got that and saw the Pats just put on a clean display on offense, defense, and special teams. And the fact that they did this as a team rather than having to focus on individual players was really special.
As we were driving back to New Jersey, I was wondering for a long time about what I got out of this day at training camp. I finally understood that this New England Patriots team will be much stronger because not only are they talented on paper, but it’s also because they show a distinct sense of unison that was absent last year. As long as everyone stays *healthy* and contributes what they’re supposed to, I cannot see what will stop this team from winning a Super Bowl.
Of course nothing is ever set in stone but after seeing all the things that happened in that third day of training camp, I can say that Patriots fans everywhere have a right to feel confident about this team. Let’s hope we’re correct!