I went down to Foxboro on Tuesday for my second training camp visit. I hadn’t planned on going again this year (I’d seen Tom my first time out, and it’s not a quick trip down there, not to mention how it chews up gas), but when I heard the Saints would be doing joint practices with the Patriots, I decided to go.
It was a festive atmosphere, thousands of people streaming in to sit on aluminum bleachers or the grassy knoll. Yes, there is a grassy knoll! ;)
The staff of Patriots Football Weekly handed out the rosters as they usually do, and a chart of the drills, which was new. They announced the drills over the loudspeaker, too. I bought a First Down Frank and headed for the bleachers furthest away from the entrance and managed to find a seat. Unlike my last trip, it was already crowded by the start of practice.
It was great fun to watch the Pats and Saints go at in drills. I saw Drew Brees and Reggie Bush up close (brought the binocs again!).
Tom was looking fantastic, of course. He looks good in longish blond locks and his skin glistening with sweat. Not to mention a lot of the other guys. ;)
I talked to an elderly couple sitting behind me and we traded observations on the work-out. It’s great fun to talk football with knowledgeable people. There’s a term in sports called ‘pink hats’ that originally referred to women and the pink hats offered by teams for them to buy. I never bought anything pink. I buy the regular color hats and jerseys. I enjoy the eye candy, but I’m a fan first. Anyway, the term has evolved now to include both men and women and to mean bandwagon fans who have no idea what the sport is about and just want to be seen at the games if they can snag tickets. They wouldn’t know zone coverage from man-to-man if it bit ‘em. I love talking to real football fans.
I had a great time, and looked forward to the first preaseason game.
The game was good for preaseason. Tom and the offense looked sharp. Julian Edelman was amazing. He played quarterback in college and the Patriots are turning him into a top-notch wide receiver. He’s the mini Wes Welker! ;) He constantly juked the defense and gained plenty of yards after the catch (YAC).
Brandon Spikes looks good at linebacker. We sure could use talent on defense!
What pleased me was the efficiency in the red zone, which was a glaring deficiency last year on both sides of the ball. Too often when the Pats made a trip into the red zone, they came away with no points or three instead of six. And on the other side of the ball, it was practically a guarantee that the other team would score when they got into the red zone. So it was good to see both offense and defense do better in that regard.
Lots of work still to be done, but much better to see more good things instead of bad. First round draft choice Devin McCourty looks great as a return man, and the O-line didn’t do badly despite a hold-out and injuries. They have to keep Brady upright!
Of course it’s only preaseason, with vanilla offenses and defenses and practically no gameplanning, and the score doesn't mean diddly (except in the competitive sense of the word), but still plenty of things for a football fan to see and ponder. The Pats have the toughest schedule in the NFL this season (quality of opponents, as in playoff-caliber), so it’s gonna be a tough haul, but when is it ever easy? ;)