Burned-out on business, Pats happy to be back

191543.jpg

Burned-out on business, Pats happy to be back

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - My suspicion throughout the 136-day lockout was that a large percentage of players didn't much care about the details. They wanted to get back to work and would do so under most any terms. That the NFLPA extracteda good deal for a rank-and-file that had checked out is remarkable. "I paid attention a little bit but I got sick of it just like everyone else," admitted Wes Welker Tuesday morning as players reported to Gillette Stadium for physicals and "paperwork" in advance of Wednesday's start to camp. "I got sick of hearing about it and all that stuff. For me, I just tried to concentrate on what I could control and that was staying in shape and training. "I have all the trust in the world in the guys who negotiated the deal," Welker pointed out. "I know some of the details but not all. I'm happy with everything that's happened and everything that's taken place. The owners are happy, we're happy and we're ready for some football."Earlier, when asked to characterize how heultimately felt about the new CBA, safety Patrick Chung said,"I'll leave that to our representatives. I'm just here to come here and make sure all the guys are ready to practice and work and go hard. Leave the big guy stuff to the big guys. They'll discuss that with you. I'm just happy to be back."Chung and Welker were the only Patriots made available by the team on Tuesday. Wednesday there will be a conditioning run and meetings. Practices on Thursday and Friday will be at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and are open to the public. Tuesday morning, media was hustled to an overhang above a players entrance to film stadium arrivals. Even though players weren't supposed to be in the building before 10 a.m., several players were seen leaving after 10 who weren't seen going in before the clock struck 10. Most didn't stay long. And when they were inside, they did not meet with head coach Bill Belichick. With the ability to negotiate contracts with rookies, sign undrafted free agents and begin talking to unrestricted free agents, Belichick was likely in dispose. "I'm, happy to be back, I've been working out, I missed the guys, I missed the fans, I missed (the media). ... I'm glad to be back," said Chung. Asked the tenor of the buildingon Tuesday morning, Chung said,"Everyone was happy. It felt like I hadn't seen my brothers in a while. It's hard not to be able to communicate with the guys you're playing with and the guys that are going to be taking care of your body and guys that are teaching me the playbook. Now that we're back, it's like we haven't missed a beat."Welker is happy to know his cash flow is returning. "At this time of year, money starts running low so we'll be getting paychecks again. We're excited and it's good to have football back. Fans are excited and players are just as excited."Conditioning is going to be a major concern early in camp. With time short,players losing practice time because they didn't work out hard enough during the lockout will be unacceptable. "I'm pretty confident that most guys worked out," said Chung, who was part of a crew working out at Foxboro's Edge Performance with trainer Brian McDonough. The learning curve for rookies, Chung said, can be managed. "If you come in focused, ready to go, pay attention to the veteran guys who know what they're doing, it can be an easy transition or it can be very hard for you," he said. "The veterans will help them to be where they need to be." Welker believes getting the simple stuff correct is the most important -- and most difficult -- thing to conquer early in camp. "I think everybody getting on the same page, knowing where to line up (will be the hardest thing to overcome after the layoff)," he explained. "I think hearing the play calls is the main thing. Knowing how to run routes and techniques and having your body learn all that stuff over again and hearing all that stuff over again. The main thing is being able to hear all the calls and remember those."Because of changes to the new collective bargaining agreement, there will be no classic "two-a-day" practices in pads. Teams are allowed just one padded practice each day during camp. The secondgatheringis pad-free."Just because there aren't two padded practices doesn't mean you can't go hard (in the one without pads)," said Chung. "We work hard, regardless if it's one practice, two practices, three practices, 1,000 practices, we're gonna work hard and Bill's gonna make sure that happens and the leaders on the team are gonna make sure that happens." With Tuesday just a day to clear up details, the message from Belichick heading into this unique camp has yet to be delivered. "We're meeting (Wednesday). I'm sure(Belichick) willhave an array of things to go over from the offseason."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

Garoppolo: Not pressured by Patriots to return last Thursday

FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful. 

The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.  

“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”

Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”

Agreed.  

Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not. 

I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”