By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
August 02, 2009

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The Patriots are through three days of camp, and so far fans have every reason to be excited about this upcoming season.

The team has had double sessions each day, and by Saturday there were many players who seemed to be dragging by the time the day came to an end. Unlike previous years, head coach Bill Belichick has seen his roster shift to an even younger group, and this time around he's not making it easy. He's been working the players hard, and trying to build chemistry and work on fundamentals. We've seen everything from tackling drills, offensive line blocking work, special teams drills, red zone plays, you name it, and they've been working on it.

So far the team has been healthy, with only a handful of players missing practices which included defensive lineman Ty Warren, and saw cornerback Shawn Springs start on the active/non football injury list. Springs did return on day two, and was a player who was noticably winded by the time it was over. Through the first three days Randy Moss has been skipping the morning sessions but has participated in each afternoon session. Matt Light, Stephen Neal, Joey Galloway, and Tedy Bruschi were among others who have been alternating between sessions. Light's time off has given second-round draft choice Sebastian Vollmer a chance to step in at left tackle, and according to published reports Vollmer has held his own, which would give the team some good depth behind Light.

Jerod Mayo has stepped up early on so far, reportedly adding four pounds of muscle and has looked impressive. During one-on-one drills Saturday Mayo was spotted running over several of the runningbacks, and hitting hard throughout practice. Adalius Thomas has also been impressive, handing out a few big hits of his own.

Second round draft pick Ron Brace has also used the absence of veterans to get some work in, and so far has looked impressive. With Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Jarvis Green missing time, Brace has been working at end in a 3-4 alignment. Brace is projected as a nose tackle but has been holding his own thus far up front.

The biggest news has been the return of quarterback Tom Brady, who is looking forward to playing football again after his season ended just 15 plays into last year where he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. He partipated in the team's OTA's during the offseason, but Thursday was the first time that fans got to watch him first hand when camp opened. Through three days all looks well with New England's signal caller, and Brady's excited about continuing to work and getting ready for this season.

"I've kind of made a concerted effort to move on,'' Brady told reporters on Friday when asked about his knee injury. "[The injury] was last season. This is this season. I don't think about it. I think it's been a great learning experience for me, and I'm using that as a positive. Hopefully, I can go out this year and be a great quarterback for this team.''

He was certainly great in his last full season in 2007. Brady lit up the NFL in what was a record setting season for the two-time Super Bowl MVP. He set the NFL record for touchdown passes with 50, including helping break the number of TD receptions in a season where he threw 23 to receiver Randy Moss. That year he was also named the league's Most Valuable Player.

Whether or not fans will see him during the preseason remains to be seen. Brady sat out the entire preseason last year while recovering from a foot injury, and when asked whether or not he'd take the field during this year's exhibition games Brady told reporters that the circumstances surrounding his foot injury were the reason he didn't play, but his knee shouldn't stop him this time around and he expects to be out there.

"Yeah, I think I'll play,'' Brady said when asked if he'd see action. "Last year, it wasn't like I wasn't supposed to play. I would have loved to have played, but some circumstances came up where I couldn't. "I think it's really important for a quarterback to be out there playing. If you're the leader of the offense, you have to be out there leading in the preseason and the practices. I'm excited for those games, because I think we can make improvements in those games.''

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel did a solid job filling in for Brady last season, but his trade earlier this offseason also sent former linebacker Mike Vrabel with him. That has left many wondering who is going to fill that void, and so far according to Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe it's been Pierre Woods who has stood out, with second-year player Vince Redd and veteran Tully Banta-Cain also appearing to be potential candidates. However, playing the position is one thing, filling the leadership void is another. It remains to be seen who will end up stepping up and filling that role.

One of the other questions running through the minds of Patriots fans will be who will take over after the loss of Rodney Harrison, who after having his season cut short due to injury last year, won't be returning after opting to retire and pursue a career in broadcasting this offseason. Back in April New England drafted Patrick Chung, who will be battling for playing time with James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather and has had some good moments thus far during camp. He still has a long road ahead, but he seems to be off to a good start.

As the Patriots head into their first full week of practice we've already learned quite a bit. So far things look quite promising, and with their first preseason game a little over a week away it's going to be interesting to see them in game action.

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm glad it's finally football season. This is definitely my favorite time of year.


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