It would have been a bigger surprise to me if Brian Waters did report for the start of training camp.
At 35 and entering his 15th season of pro football, the Patriots left guard gets to work banker's hours because he's shown he can work banker's hours and not suffer.
Waters signed with the Patriots on September 4 of last year. Days later, he played seamlessly in the opener at Miami. And months after that, he was named to the Pro Bowl.
Bill Belichick will let veterans play by different rules provided those players are A) talented enough and B) professional.
It was a practice Belichick began with outside linebacker Roman Phifer back in 2001. And it's almost certainly what's up with Waters.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe got Waters on the phone Wednesday and Waters gave Bedard nothing.
"Im not really talking about it, youll have to talk to the Patriots about it, he said. At this moment, Im not really discussing the situation. Right now Im just handling things between me and the team. If they want to talk to you, thats fine but Im not really talking about it.Youre just going to have to talk to the team. Im allowing them to handle all the media stuff right now. Were going to do it this way, because its the best way to do it.Waters is under contract for this year. He skipped minicamp -- an excused absence, according to Bill Belichick -- and has been back home in Texas much of the offseason.
Do not expect him to stay there until the regular season.
As for the team releasing running back Joseph Addai on the eve of camp, that was a mild surprise. While Addai hasn't been a monster in past seasons for the Colts, he's still just 29 and figured to be a nice fit as a veteran back in a stable of young guys.
The Patriots have four backs on the roster, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden.
Friday's practice participation/injury report for Monday night's Patriots-Ravens game:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder)
DB Jordan Richards (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (hamstring)
DB Eric Rowe (hamstring)
WR/SpT Matthew Slater (foot)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Crockett Gilmore (thigh)
LB Terrell Suggs (not injury related)
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh)
C Jeremy Zuttah (not injury related)
G Alex Lewis (ankle)
G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)
FOXBORO -- It seems unlikely that a 23-year-old who has spent much of his life around sports would be unaware of how fantasy football works. But Malcolm Mitchell insisted on Friday that he was that 23-year-old.
Over the last seven days, Mitchell has been the second-most added player in ESPN.com fantasy leagues behind only Steelers tight end Ladarius Green. The rookie wideout went undrafted in many fantasy leagues before the start of the regular season, but his production has spiked over the last three weeks making him one of a hot commodity for people headed into the fantasy playoffs.
In wins over the Niners, Jets and Rams, Mitchell has caught 17 passes for 222 yards and three scores.
"I have family members mention it, but I never know what they're talking about," Mitchell said when asked if he was asked about his newfound popularity among fans of fantasy football. "I'm not sure how that works. If someone said it, I'd probably have no idea what it means."
A fewer lockers down from Mitchell is the stall of rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who cut into Mitchell's back-and-forth with reporters joking, "I've got him on my team!"
Mitchell's confusion over the phenomenon that is fantasy football seemed to be genuine as he asked questions about how teams operate and what fantasy free-agency means.
Those who've picked him up probably don't mind that Mitchell is in the dark on the subject -- and the same goes for the Patriots coaching staff, it's safe to assume -- as long as he continues to do his job as well as he's done it in recent weeks.