By TomE. Curran
CHESTNUT HILL Informal. But still damn important.
For Mike Wright, the lockout workouts held Wednesday and Thursday at Boston College give the Patriots defensive tackle a chance to get back to a place he couldnt even think about last fall.
On the field with his teammates.
Sidelined much of last season by a debilitating concussion and its aftereffects, Wright took a minute Thursday to talk about being back on the field even in this limited basis with 40 or so teammates.
Its been great, said Wright, who led the Patriots with 5.5 sacks despite his limited playing time. Its good to be back with the guys and working together. Its a chance to see some new faces, some old faces. Its good to get out there and get going for next season.
With NFL owners meeting with players head DeMaurice Smith in Chicago this week in advance of Fridays court hearing in St. Louis, were getting the strongest indication in some time that real work toward ensuring a full season is being done.
Meanwhile, Thursdays workout was a reminder of how far behind the players are getting despite their best efforts at working independently.
Normally, this would be the week the Patriots conduct their June mini-camp. It would have followed OTAs and passing camp and the rookies would have already attended their rookie mini-camp.
But this shorts and t-shirts workout on Thursday with no contact and no coaches is the most important team-wide exercise of the star-crossed offseason of 2011. How much technical correction can be done in real time? And if the practice isnt taped and then broken down, how can development happen? How much can be installed? How much can be done when players who have had their health benefits suspended by the league are loathe to get injured and have their jobs in jeopardy in the fall?
Despite all that, the benefit for the players is there. Mostly, its team building.
Whos in? Thats a question that was answered by attendance and the level of fitness players showed up in.
And if any were looking for an example of commitment, they could find veteran running back Kevin Faulk. Faulk is a free agent and coming back from a blown ACL. Yet he was on the field Thursday, moving with the quickness and confidence were accustomed to seeing.
For players like Wright, the chance to be on the field with guys hes fought next to was refreshing.
I feel much better, said Wright. Its good to be back in it and its good to be working with the guys and getting back into a normal routine. It lasted a while. Im just glad that its over. It was a lot longer than expected but Ive moved past it and Im just looking forward to next year.
Now we just need next year to get here.