By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - We hadn't had a chance to speak to rookie corner Alfonzo Dennard until Thursday.
The well-regarded rookie corner whose stock plummeted just before the draft after an arrest in Lincoln, Nebraska had been kept under wraps.
But his athleticism and skill - even on the first day - was hard to overlook. Wearing No. 37, Dennard got beat on plenty of plays. But he also showed excellent short-area burst, a build ideal for playing the "star" position against the opposition's slot receiver, and a touch of aggressiveness.
"Alfonzo's done a good job of trying to pick things up here," Bill Belichick said Friday before the Patriots' second training camp practice. "Our system's a little different than what they ran at Nebraska. He's worked hard and he also got a lot of attention there the first couple days before everyone else got here. That was good for him to get a little bit extra coaching, extra time."
Dennard was viewed as a late first-rounder when the college season began in late 2012. As the season wore along, he suffered an injury that dropped his stock just a bit. But an arrest a week before the draft sent his stock plummeting. It wasn't until the seventh round that the Patriots pulled the string.
Dennard could end up being a huge bargain if he plays to his athletic potential. If he fails to do that, the damage isn't too significant.
"I'm just trying to learn the playbook and learn from the veterans as much as I can," said Dennard. "I'm just trying to play football, I don't try to idolize anybody."
As for his court date on assaulting a policeman?
"It's over and done," Dennard said. "I'm just trying to keep my mind level on football and stay focused."
Actually, it's not over and done. He's due to go on trial for his alleged infraction in December.