FOXBORO -- For Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan and Tavon Wilson, their offseason spent training in Phoenix at the Fischer Institute was vital not only to the sharpening of their on-the-field skill sets, but also to forming their bond as a group.
The four Patriots defensive backs -- along with former Patriots safety Adrian Wilson -- worked out and studied their own past performances on film in order to be ready to compete in training camp.
But for someone like Revis, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, just spending time with his new teammates was invaluable.
"This is great for us to get guys that are committed and want to come out to Phoenix," Revis said. "A bunch of guys came out -- Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, Tavon. They came out and we just worked. We busted our butts off, and it was good for us to be out there and get more camaraderie with each other and just hang out with each other every day. We were out there for four months. That was great. It brings more chemistry to the secondary, and guys were willing to do it."
Wilson is hoping to make an impact on the Patriots defense in his third year in the league after being relegated to a reserve role last season. He said his experience in Phoenix will put him in the best position to try to do that because of all he learned from the veterans around him.
"It was great for me," Wilson said. "Being around some guys that have been some really great players in the league, just being around those guys, being able to build your friendship, just seeing how those guys carry themselves on a day by day basis was really helpful to me."
As helpful as it was for that foursome, Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained on Tuesday morning that he wished all players would stick around the facilities at Gillette Stadium in order to do their training. He realizes that there's only so much time players can spend with their teams because of the rules laid out by the current CBA -- but that didn't keep him from lamenting the time apart.
"Players that want to get better," Belichick said, "players that want to improve, players that want to continue to train and not just sit around and wait for the pages in the calendar to flip over, the way we have the league schedule, then they proactively go out and work on things that will help them be better players. I totally respect that.
"I wish we were able to give them more help and more direction and the use of our facilities and the expertise of our coaching staff and support staff on all levels -- training, lifting, conditioning, nutrition and so forth. But the rules are what the rules are so we’re not allowed to work with them. But I don’t expect the guys to sit around and watch sitcoms all day. I’d like for them to be out there doing something. I wish we could do more with them. But we’re restricted as to what we can do. That’s the way we want it set up, that’s the way the league and the players and all want it, so that’s the way it is."
Belichick said he understands that players may be showed how to do things -- whether it be with their training or their nutrition -- differently than they may be taught in New England. While he said the Patriots are always open to new ways of doing things, for the most part he said he expects the Patriots Way to be the way when players are in Foxboro.
"Look, we’re open to new ideas and we certainly have changed some of the training things, the techniques, the things that we do based on information that we get as a coaching staff or as a training staff, conditioning staff, whatever it happens to be," he said. "If we can find a better way to do it, we’re all for doing it and improving our program. We’re always striving for that.
"Wherever those suggestions or ideas come from, whether it’s us visiting another college or something or talking to somebody that is in area of expertise or again, sometimes it’s players coming to us from college or from another organization saying, ‘Hey, this worked well for me, maybe it’s something we should do.’ So, yeah, we’ve done that from time to time. Sometimes we think it’s a good thing for us. Sometimes we think, with all due respect, we have a better way to do it. We certainly can learn and improve what we’re doing. The doors aren’t closed to that at all."