The New England Patriots's Rookie Mini Camp runs Friday, 5/2 to Saturday, 5/3. This is where coaches get to meet the rookies and the rookies get their first taste of life "in the show". Mike Reiss's blog has some really good writeups and info, but here's a few highlights:
Tom Brady mentors rookies. After the session, linebacker Shawn Crable talked about how QB Tom Brady held court with some of the rookies in the training room before practice. Brady and Crable have a natural connection, as both attended Michigan, but Crable said it wasn't a Michigan-only type of setting. "He just got done working out and came in to speak to us," Crable said. "He just gave us some advice, things he has done over eight, nine years."
If there's any starry eyed rookies at the camp, Belichick will fix that and soon. An interesting twist is Matthew Slater, originally touted as a wide receiver, is working out at safety:
Slater sticks with defense. Unlike Friday, when fifth-round draft choice Matthew Slater worked at both receiver and safety, he was mostly working with the defense today. Slater wore a temporary blue jersey throughout the session and was tutored throughout by secondary/special assistant coach Dom Capers.
Belichick loves this kind of stuff; players with versatility are highly respected in the Patriots's system. But, there's more to it. Peel back the onion a bit and this makes a ton of sense. 1) Can anyone say we're hurtin' in the WR area? Probably not. So, why not take a kid with WR hands and abilities and put him at Safety? You know, to maybe, I don't know, intercept? Always thinking, Bill.
And one of my favorites:
Specifics of coaching. At the end of practice, third-round draft choice Kevin O’Connell worked one-on-one with offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels. As the work was taking place, a member of the team’s video department filmed O’Connell, presumably to let O’Connell take it home and study himself. It was the first time O’Connell had ever experienced such specific coaching, which he welcomed. “We’re going to try to work on things every single day,” he said. “If it’s something small, [like] ball placement, footwork in a five-step [drop] or three-step [drop], I just want to get better at one or two things every day, so when training camp rolls around, I’m prepared to do whatever I can to be part of this team.”
We were eviscerated for picking Kevin up. Many thought it was "a reach" or way to early. Don't forget he was picked up late in the third round and many thought he wouldn't be around very long. Matt Cassel is a free agent at the end of the 2008 season and I think it was a great move to pick up O'Connell. I said before in my writeup on Kevin it was wise to get him into the system now. He's a scrambler and could prove very useful. Belichick must see something in Kevin and I, for one, am excited about this choice. I'll be following Kevin closely, you can bank on that.
Good luck, rookies!