Patriots accept high expectations

Patriots accept high expectations
July 23, 2014, 7:45 pm
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FOXBORO – The expectation isn’t hard to understand. It’s the same as it’s been since 2005. Win a Super Bowl.

As the Patriots on Wednesday eased back into their full-time football lives, there was no sidestepping that reality.

“Well, we have pretty high expectations every single season,” said guard Logan Mankins. “We expect to have a good football team, play good football and try to be there at the end. We’ve added some good players and we’ve kept some good players from previous years so … I have the same expectations as I do every year for us to have a good football team. You just have to play the games and see how it goes.”

“I know what the expectations are,” said defensive end Rob Ninkovich, “but every year there are always high expectations just because we’re on one of the best teams in the NFL. For me personally, there is always an expectation to do better [than] what I did the previous season. So I’m always trying to improve and be a better football player.”

The first two days of camp – Thursday and Friday – will be on the light side, said Bill Belichick. By the weekend, the team will be in pads.

Some have been here since the weekend.

“The players that came in early were a combination of rookies and veterans; obviously quarterbacks,” Belichick explained. “It was a mixed group but for the most part, with one or two exceptions, all those players were here in the spring. So it isn’t like we’re starting from scratch of, ‘Here’s where the field is,’ type of thing. We’re beyond that. They’re all here for a reason, for a purpose. We try to make the most out of those opportunities that they were here for. They’re all, again, different reasons, different circumstances but there are reasons why they’re here, set forth in the CBA. We try to, again, use that time to use it productively for those players. They’re in certainly different categories, different situations.”

The last time the Patriots were on a field together in pads was the AFC Championship game. That didn’t go so good. But, unlike Peyton Manning who’s been hate-watching the Super Bowl, the Patriots aren’t torturing themselves watching film of how bad they were.

“I think it’s not just looking at one game, (stopping opponents) is the focus of the defense,” said Devin McCourty when asked if the Broncos game is a reminder of how well they must play to reach expectations. “We have to stop any offense when they’re operating at their best. Any given Sunday, you don’t know what you’re going to get. You can play a team in this league late in the season that has won two games, but if they’re operating on all cylinders, you’re playing the best two-and-whatever team at that point. Each game and each week we have to be ready to go out there and stop the offense’s best. Coach Belichick tells us that every week. We can watch all the film in the world and it can be good football, bad football; the day we play them, that’s what we have to stop. For us, it has to be our mentality to go into training camp every day and do our best to stop the offense every day.”

Thursday it begins. And the expectation – outside and in - is that it won’t end until February.