It had rained heavily before the scheduled practice, so the team practiced inside the bubble and we were allowed into the stadium in the bowl and watched practice on the Jumbotron screens. Disappointing as we didn't get to see our heroes in the flesh, but cool that we got into the stadium.
And cool it was! The stadium is designed to allow wind to blow though the concourses and onto the field, and when it’s literally ten degrees below zero it’s a little chilly, but on a hot summer’s day we were thrilled to feel the breezes as clouds blocked out the sun.
The lights were on the lighthouse and added a nice touch.
The practice was very efficient, and Tom was leading the offense in several drills.
Training camp is always fun. This year the attendance records are being broken on a regular basis, with 6,000 attending the morning session last Friday and 4,000 in the afternoon. In the morning session yesterday, 7,295 attended, and in the afternoon, 2,000 came and stayed to watch in the stadium.
The usual training camp scenario is walking down to the practice fields located by Gillette Stadium. Passing through a giant inflatable helmet that also tracks how many people attend, you can pick up a copy of Patriots' Football Weekly and a training camp roster, then head for the aluminum bleachers, reminiscent of the old stadium which was a barebones operation.
Three units work on the open fields: defensive, offensive and special teams. A horn signals when it's time to switch fields and drills. By the end of the session, the offensive and defensive units usually have 11-on-11 drills.
Tom Brady as the starting quarterback gets the majority of snaps, and he works with the first unit. Binoculars give all of us wearing Brady jerseys a great look at blue eyes! ;)
Anyway, it's interesting to watch the offense run passing and running plays. Sometimes other offensive players play the defense or some of the defensive players come to participate.
Running plays are called to check on the offensive line's blocking skills and to see if the right calls and checkdowns are made by both the QB and center, and tight ends get their work in as well as the wide receivers.
As the defense works, they switch back and forth from 3-4 to 4-3 formations, and in passing plays, the cornerbacks and safeties practice Cover 2, zone and man-to-man coverages. The linebackers in Bill Belichick's system have to be extremely football-smart and quick, roaming around in the roles of pass-rusher or run-stuffer.
It's a lot of fun to see the guys at work, running the plays and working on things, and we always have a good time. They sell food and drinks at booths and also hawk them in the stands, and it's usually about 90 degrees or more out with no shade! :) Also in addition to the bleachers there's a hillside that slopes up to the stadium and a lot of fans like to sit there next to the box that holds media and special visitors.
After practice the players come to sign autographs, so we get to see them up close and personal. If you want to see gorgeous guys, this is the place to go! ;)
With luck, I might get a chance to go again later this week. Practices open to the public are less than two weeks' time, so you have to get your visits in! The website for training camp is here: http://www.patriots.com/trainingcamp/2007/.
Thanks for reading!
Football is here! Woot, woot! J