TRAINING CAMP COUNTDOWN: 18 days until Patriots training camp

We’ll kick off this morning with an article from Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe on Patriots defensive back Leigh Bodden, who after being released by the Detroit Lions following the 2008 season had multiyear contract offers from other teams.  Instead he elected to sign a one-year deal for the veteran minimum with New England for 2009, and the move turned out to work in his favor.  After a solid performance last season Bodden was rewarded with a new deal with the Patriots that includes $10-million guaranteed.

“I’ve been taking a gamble on myself for a long time now, and I just believe in myself, no matter who believes in me,’’ Bodden said after a recent session of organized team activities. “[Taking the one-year deal] was the thing that I felt I needed to do and would put my faith in God and let him handle it.

“Everybody talked about, ‘What if you get hurt?’ I don’t worry about that. I just try to go out there and perform the way I perform and let everything else play out.’’

The San Bernadino Sun has an article this morning on former Patriot Chris Hayes, who held a recent football camp with former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson.   According to the newspaper Hayes has been active in the youth camp scene in the Pacific Northwest, overseeing a camp circuit that allows kids to attend free of charge in the Seattle area.

“The goal is to get it where everything is provided for the kids so their parents don’t have to pay for a thing,” Hayes said.

“This year is a good start to that. The city of Redlands and the entire area have been so receptive to us, which is a blessing and something I’m thankful for.”

The Chicago Tribune has an article this morning with a  breakdown of this year’s potential breakthrough players, and has Darius Butler listed against other NFL players who they feel will have a big year.

Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal has an article this morning on Patrick Chung, Jerod Mayo, and Tyrone McKenzie, who joined many former Patriots players for a life clinic that the New England Patriots Alumni Club held for more than 100 young athletes Saturday afternoon at Classical High’s Al Morro Field.

The Oklahoman has an article today on Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, who stopped to reflect on his journey from Heritage Hall to the NFL and offers up a ton of insight into his time in the NFL, and even has some candid moments – one of which where he admits he “hates snakes”.  It’s a good read.

Our friends over at NEPatriotsDraft.com have an article this morning on Tom Brady’s contract situation, and looks at the financial difficulties behind putting a new deal together.

Scott Barboza has an article over at ESPNBoston.com on Jerod Mayo, who is looking forward to the start of training camp.

“I get up in the morning and go training, come home, and then go training again,” Mayo said. “I’m trying to get my body ready for the grind. It’s a long season and I’m trying to punish my body now to get ready for [training camp], so it doesn’t feel as bad when it comes.”

OTHER NFL HEADLINES:

The Associated Press reports that Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand has been sentenced to six months of probation and $870 in fines and costs for a recent drunk driving arrest.  This is otherwise known as a slap on the wrist, so I guess the only consolation should be that he didn’t kill anyone.

USA Today has an article on troubled quarterback Michael Vick, who thanks to the recent shooting incident last month is now barred from leaving Pennsylvania by his probation officials.  The penalty cost him a couple of charity appearances, and it remains to be seen if commissioner Roger Goodell will penalize him further considering the strict terms put in place for his NFL reinstatement last year.

Due to the lack of NFL headlines this morning we’ll end on this note:  Rick Gosselin of the Herald-Review has an article this morning on Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who he feels is now among the NFL Elite quarterbacks.  Gosselin cites the fact that Romo will start 2010 as the third most-efficient quarterback in history – ahead of Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Joe Montana and Drew Brees.

That’s it for this morning.  Enjoy your Sunday, and we’ll have another “What We’ve Learned” for you later this evening.