Quick Hits: A wild day at Gillette

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Quick Hits: A wild day at Gillette

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran FOXBORO - Albert and Ocho. What's the worst that could happen? Well, for starters, say Ocho and the quarterback pile onto Albert's boat. And the head coach too. Of course he'll be there because he and Ocho are boys. Albert opens it up a little bit and the next thing you know they're going 145 when they T-bone Codzilla in Boston Harbor. While Ocho's water skiing. And Belichick's fishing. And Brady's sunning himself on the quarterdeck. And it doesn't work out so good for any of them. But aside from that? Not much, right? Here are some quick hits from a bizarre day to start the 2011 Patriots season.
1. INSIDE KNOWLEDGEWhen the Patriots decided to pull the trigger on Haynesworth, two things had to happen. The price had to be right - a fifth-round pick and a renegotiated deal with no guaranteed money was right. And there had to be people willing to vouch for him. One of them, no doubt, was Floyd Reese. The Patriots' Senior Football Adviser drafted Haynesworth out of Tennessee and was with Haynesworth for the entirety of the player's career in Tennessee. The other was likely Jim Schwartz, head coach of the Lions and Haynesworth's defensive coordinator with the Titans. Belichick is not shy about gathering and sharing information with people in the coaching fraternity, especially if they are far removed from New England. And with Schwartz as head coach of the Lions, there was sufficient buffer. A call to Schwartz hasn't yet been returned, but here's what he had to say about Haynesworth last year after one of the DTs rare productive games for the Redskins. "It's him playing in a 4-3. It's him being disruptive, attacking blockers, knocking them back, affecting the run and the pass," Schwartz said after watching tape of Haynesworth ruining the Bears offense last October. "I mean, he was hard to handle one-on-one. Those are the things I remember about Albert. He affected that game."When he gets moving, he's very difficult to block. He is a guy that's a very good athlete, he's a very smart football player, and he's tremendously big. And you combine all three of those, and it's very difficult to block him. That's one of the reasons, like I said, that he had so much success. That's one of the reasons he had so much success last week. And again, it's one of the reasons he was in such demand as a draft pick and also a free agent."2. See What Condition His Condition Is InGiven Haynesworth's disinterest in playing for Mike Shanahan in Washington last season, it's hard to imagine he's been working out like a fiend to get ready for 2011. That will be one of the biggest issues he'll face when joining the Patriots. You figure he won't be on the field until he passes his conditioning test, although if he does fail it, he may be out there for mental reps. As big as Vince Wilfork is, he is in tremendous cardiovascular shape and rarely misses practice. That hasn't been Haynesworth's modus operandi. We'll see if it changes. 3. Ocho's Barstool ExclusiveNews is news and one of the most revealing insights into the fact that Ochocinco gets the difference between his "brand" and being a football player was given to Dave Portnoy (aka El Presidente) at Barstool Sports. In Miami recently, Portnoy talked to Ochocinco at a Skyy Vodka party. The mostrelevant part was Ocho talking about assimilating into the system in New England. (It's kind of stream-of-consciousness, but what the hell . . . you get what he's saying). "A lot of people say my style of play would be weird in that system but the thing they dont realize is that I dont have to be Chad Johnson," he told Portnoy. "I dont have to be Ochocino in the media, because Im finally getting what Ive wanted. Winning. Winning."Listen, I create this party, I create this guy that loves football thats like a little kid out there. I know I get to camp July 26, when January gets here Im done. So Im trying to cram as much(flipping) fun as possible into the games as I can. Listen, Im just saying, yo, I wouldnt have to do that (stuff). I wouldnt have to celebrate. Celebrate for what? Ill score 30(flipping) times! They wouldnt have a(flipping) chance! You know? You understand what Im saying?Belichick knows me, see, this is what I love about the New England Patriots. Im close to that man on a personal level, they already know that behind the fun, behind the celebrations, they know how hard I work. Theyre the ones . . . theyre the ones ESPN wanna say, Oh he cant play no more. Ask the players there next time you see em. Ask Belichick next time you see him."We'll do that Friday. 4. Light's On?No word yet on whether the Patriots will retain Matt Light as they hope to. He hasn't been linked to any other teams and the Globe's Greg Bedard reported Thursday that the Patriots are nearing a deal. That's all for Thursday. We'll be back at it in the morning. We'll have Belichick around 9:30 and Brady after practice.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

Brandin Cooks knows he'll still probably have to stash the arrows in 2017

FOXBORO -- Toward the end of Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium, Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown from Tom Brady in the back corner of the end zone despite close coverage from corner Malcolm Butler. Cooks reached behind him, as if he was pulling an invisible arrow from an invisible quiver on his back, starting what was once his signature touchdown celebration. 

But he stopped there. 

"I didn't want to shoot it," he said with a smile after the workout. "Just having fun out there with the guys, competing every day. That's what it's all about."

Cooks may have to continue showing restraint during the regular season when it comes to his post-touchdown choices. Even though the NFL has eased off of the penalties for certain celebrations, Cooks still probably won't be shooting any arrows in 2017.

"No, I'm gonna be respectful," he said. "If it's a penalty, it's a penalty. I'm not going to do anything to hurt the team . . . I think it still will be [a penalty]."

Cooks was not able to execute his preferred celebration after it was made clear last season that imitating archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for his bow-and-arrow act. 

There is a biblical origin story to Cooks' celebration, he told the New Orleans Advocate last year. 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks said, referring to Psalms 144:6. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

He added: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

After the NFL announced that it was relaxing its policy on penalizing celebrations, Cooks tweeted "#shootyourarrows" four times with several bow-and-arrow emojis. But just a few days later, he appeared resigned to keeping his celebration in moth balls so that his team wouldn't be penalized for an act that the league might deem "threatening." He wasn't thrilled.

"It's for God," he said, "so if that's threatening, then I think we've got a problem."