Best & Worst: Patriots camp 2011

505044.jpg

Best & Worst: Patriots camp 2011

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
It's been less than a week since the lockout was settled. Why's it seem like it happened a month-and-a-half ago? Probably because a month-and-a-half's worth of NFL transaction activity has happened in the span since the now-forgotten lockout ended. With the Patriots taking a break from practice on Monday, I've slapped together a quick best-and-worst before going out to see what the hell happened to the back lawn since last week when I disappeared into the training camp abyss. Chinch bugs? Don't tell me it's chinch bugs. BEST SHOW OF SUPERHUMAN STRENGTHAlbert Haynesworth, perhaps hustled onto the practice field Sunday to head off the inevitable "Haynesworth Watch" that was coming if he didn't partake for a second straight day, rag-dolled Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger during a brief appearance in drills. And he showed his edge with a little shove given to the relatively diminutive Wendell after the play. WORST SENSE OF IMPENDING DOOMHaynesworth is one of the nastier defensive linemen in the league. Logan Mankins is one of the nastier offensive linemen. Very soon, the two men will be lining up across from each other. In the heat. With each having something to prove to each other, themselves and their teammates. That they will scrap is inevitable. Whether either gets hurt (bet on Haynesworth) and how much collateral damage is exacted are the only unknowns. WORST FIRST IMPRESSION (ON-FIELD)Chad Ochocinco has not been glue-fingered. He's had close to 10 drops in his first three practices -- an alarming number. He's got a habit of leaving his feet to make catches inside the numbers. It's a ploy that receivers use to help protect themselves - if they're planted, their resistance is greater against oncoming hits and going up allows them to turtle a bit and absorb impact - but Ocho does it more than necessary. And with a quarterback as accurate as Tom Brady, it takes away the YAC opportunity. Also, Ocho doesn't let a failed play end without emoting in some direction - quarterback or defender. It's a little whiny. BEST FIRST IMPRESSION (OFF-FIELD)Ty Law has been the single funniest Patriot I covered. He was the best at his position for a time and had the kind of enjoyable arrogance that very few pro athletes capably carry off. Ocho's got that too. He overstates and self inflates and you know he believes what he says. But he's so quick and so aware of his audience that it's completely harmless. He said he's going to keep his distance from the media and I don't doubt he will. He all but locked out the Cincy media the past few seasons. His interactions will be self-designed. You can disagree with the way he goes about his business, but it's hard to dislike him. WORST HOLDUPRookie first-rounder Nate Solder still isn't in camp as he haggles over his contract. This was supposed to be easy with the new rookie wage scale, but apparently there's wrestling over whether or not these guys are going to get guaranteed contracts (see PFT post here on matter). All the remaining first-round holdouts are players taken between 17 and 24. Solder was taken 17th. BC lineman Anthony Castonzo, the 24th pick by Indy, wants a guaranteed four-year deal. Coltsvice chairmanBill Polian cuffed that notion around. "We are old school and if we wont give Joseph Addaiwho helped us to two Super Bowls and helped us win two AFC championships, a fully guaranteed contract, we arent going to do it for a rookie, any rookie. We love Anthony. We think hes a great draft choice and we think he would be a great Colt, but its time for him to prove that before he gets a fully guaranteed contract.BEST HOLDUP INSURANCEMatt Light. As we told you all along, this was going to get done and it did. Contract's not signed but the agreement - as of Monday morning - is in place. WORST CROWD INTERACTIONThis one. About the :40 second mark

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

McDaniels: 'Wouldn't surprise me' if Belichick coached into his 70s

When will Bill Belichick retire? The Patriots coach is 64 years old, and he's been on record saying that he won't be coaching into his 70s like former Bills head coach Marv Levy. But it sure seems like Belichick has plenty of energy to stay at the job for some time, and the results, you may have noticed, have been pretty good. 

MORE FROM McDANIELS: 'Don't know' who'll play quarterback Sunday

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joined WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning, and he was asked about how much longer his boss might work. Would McDaniels be surprised if Belichick coached into his 70s despite what he said on NFL Network's A Football Life documentary back in 2009?

"It wouldn't surprise me," McDaniels said. "I know Bill loves football. His drive and his passion for the game and to try to do everything we can to prepare our team to win each week, I haven't seen one change in it. It's a great privilege to coach for him. He certainly kind of sets the tone for us. I don't see any difference in that since when I first started here. I look forward to coaching for him for as long as he'll let me."

Some have speculated that McDaniels could be the next head coach of the Patriots whenever Belichick decides to hang up his whistle. The 40-year-old has been up for head coaching positions since he's returned for his second stint in New England, but he's still with the organization that gave him his first NFL job in 2001. 

McDaniels, who left to be the head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, was asked if he values the offensive coordinator job with the Patriots more than a head coaching opportunity that might not be the perfect fit.

"I love where I'm at," McDaniels said. "I've said before I think we all have aspirations to grow and get better and improve and potentially move up and what have you. Who knows? Maybe that day happens, maybe it doesn't. But I know this: I'm really thankful to have the opprtunity that I have to coach the players we have here and to work underneath Bill and Robert [Kraft] and the Kraft family. It's a privilege here. I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world. Just thankful that I have an opportunity to come here and do it each week."

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

McDaniels: Don't know who'll play QB for Patriots against Bills

The two quarterbacks on the Patriots roster are both dealing with injuries at the moment, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he's not sure which will be starting against the Bills on Sunday.

"I don't know that," he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "I haven't seen them in a few days. Hopefully all those guys are continuing to get better. We'll see them tomorrow. Hopefully they're all ready to go. That would be the goal. That would be the hope . . . But as of right now I don't know that."

Garoppolo's shoulder injury, suffered against the Dolphins in Week 2, was significant enough to keep him out of Thursday night's win over the Texans. In his place, rookie third-rounder Jacoby Brissett got the start, but he injured his thumb during the game. He played through the injury, which Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran has reported is "minor."

Asked if receiver Julian Edelman would be the next in line if both of those players were unavailable, McDaniels explained that the Patriots may have used a variety of looks had they been in that kind of emergency situation.

"We have to have somebody ready to go," McDaniels said. "Julian's certainly been in that position before. There's always a couple other things you can do. There's a lot of schemes that are available to people if that situation were to ever come up , , , It might not have been one thing. It might've been multiple different things that we try at that point. We had more than one guy that was ready to go if that situation came up."

Bills coach Rex Ryan said on Sunday that he didn't care who was playing behind center for the Patriots, even if it was coach Bill Belichick. The Bills would be coming after him.

"I have a lot of respect for Rex," McDaniels said. "What he says is usually the truth. They'll blitz. They'll bring a lot of packages each week to try to disrupt the quarterback, whichever team he's playing . . . He always keeps you on your toes, makes it difficult."