According to head coach Bill Belichick, veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters was the lone player not in attendance at Patriots mandatory minicamp, which began today. This marks the fourth open-media workout that Waters has skipped, as he was also not present for three weeks of New England OTAs.
Normally, players who miss these mandatory workouts are subject to fines, but Belichick says that he has excused Waters, his starting right guard in 2011, for "personal reasons".
Looking into Waters' past seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, he has often skipped team OTAs to spend time with family, but has normally been present during mandatory team events.
There has been speculation of Waters possibly walking away from the NFL since the Super Bowl loss against the Giants. A source close to the 35-year old Waters said that he intends to play in 2012, but that was weeks ago.
When asked if he had any indication about Waters possibly retiring from the Patriots, Bill Belichick declined comment. However, he did offer some insight as how effective Waters might be when/if he returns to New England
"I don't know. I think any time players get closer to the end of their career, whatever that is, you evaluate them on a year by year basis. Some players are improving in their early 20s, the early part of their career, and then there is some point in their career ... nobody is going to play forever. I don't think he is any different than anybody else."