Today marked the second straight day of player-led practices for the Patriots at Boston College with quarterback Tom Brady in town. For the second straight day, the Patriots had a great turnout, and while media were not allowed inside the stadium complex, some intriguing observations were made from afar, and some interesting player interviews were held afterwards.
Perhaps the most player appearance at the practice was that of Kevin Faulk. Faulk, 35, lost nearly his entire 2010 season after tearing his ACL in week two against the Jets. Despite the injury, Faulk remained at the team facilities and acted as a leader for the running back group in a behind-the-scenes type of role. When the Patriots drafted Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley in day two of the 2011 NFL Draft, many assumed Faulk's days as a Patriot were over. His presence at today's workout certainly brings some intrigue to that story.
But what about the practice itself?
According to various media coverage, the practice ran at a good pace and resembled a typical OTA. The team split into position drills, conditioning, 7 on 7's and even a little 11 on 11's.
While yesterday, I downplayed the importance of these practices, the players themselves really seemed to think they were important. Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis even commented that the practices were great and that "the best thing about it was just that we get to hear plays again, everybody get familiar with the sounds and terms. The best thing about is was to get together and bring things guys along as best we could."
Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich commented further on the importance of the practices, saying that "it means that we hold that team camaraderie and getting ready for the next season, we value that highly." Ninkovich continued, saying that "Everybody is trying to get better. Last year, we didn't end it the way we wanted to, so this year we have to start all over again and get back to where we were."
The practices have been secretive, organized, and smooth from the looks of it. Somewhere, Patriots coach Bill Belichick might be smiling... slightly. Maybe.