The Patriots held their annual season ticket holder only practice last night, and there are some interesting news and notes in this morning’s headlines.
Paul Perillo of Patriots.com has some great details from last night’s session, saying that Tom Brady looked sharp, and connected often with Chad Ochocinco and Rob Gronkowski during the evening practice.
The media caught up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis (who reportedly signed with the team yesterday) during the session, and Mark Farinella of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle writes that the veteran runningback spent the offseason doing a little boxing to keep himself in shape coming into this season.
“I did a little bit of boxing,” he said, “but most of the time when it got time for football in April and May, I went down to Orlando with coach Tom Shaw, who use to be a strength and conditioning coach here, so it’s kind of some of the same things that I’ve been used to.”
Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe has a “notebook” that leads off with the Green-Ellis signing, with the runningback expected to be back out on the field once the new league year goes into effect later today. Also joining him are expected to be Logan Mankins, Matt Light, Kevin Faulk, and Sammy Morris.
Jennifer Toland of the Worcester Telegram also has an article on Green-Ellis, although the notable thing about this piece is it contains a great photo of Brady signing autographs with fans last night.
Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald has a “notebook” from yesterday’s events, and writes that although in addition to boxing Green-Ellis spent some time with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, he’s glad to be back on the field.
“All that was fun,” Green-Ellis said, “but now, it’s time to get ready to play football and get ready for the 2011 season. I’m excited to get out here (today) and practice with the rest of my teammates.”
Jeff Howe of NESN.com writes that after a 1,000-yard+ performance last season, Green-Ellis’ signing was inevitable and notes that the runningback wouldn’t divulge whether or not he simply signed his tender, or a long-term extension like Kyle Arrington did last week.
Glen Farley of the Patriot Ledger has a piece this morning in the Taunton Gazette, which talks about Green-Ellis and his return, as well as the fact that Nick Caserio said fans should expect “business as usual” now that the first wave of free agency is over.
Matt Light was also on hand for last night’s session, and writes that Light doesn’t mind the competition, and is looking forward to it.
“Hey, competition’s the name of the game,” Light said. “There’s always going to be guys pushing everybody at every level when you have a coach like Bill (Belichick) and the rest of the staff. It drives all of us. Drafting a guy that’s coming to fill in for these old bones, it was inevitable. Hopefully we’ll have some fun teaching him a thing or two.”
Monique Walker writes that as a player rep, Light did his best not to let his own interests get in the way of the player negotiations during the labor standoff this offseason.
“My role from day one as a player rep has always been to help inform my guys as to what’s happening, what they can expect from their union, what their benefits are, all those little things that a young guy and even in some cases older guys don’t fully understand,’’ he said. “And that’s the extent of it.
“I don’t get involved in all the politics and behind-the-scenes stuff. My role and what I think they expect from me is to be able to look at things and speak on their behalf on certain issues and then go to them when they need help. And that’s it. Doesn’t cross any more lines than that.’’
Mike Lowe of the Portland Press Herald writes that Light brings a “rare charm” to this football team and feels it’s good to have him back.
Andy Hart of Patriots.com has his piece on Light, which contains quite a few quotes from last night’s Q&A session.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com writes that Light’s excited to be back, but did have a little doubt about his future.
“There’s always doubt, unfortunately, because it’s a business,” the 33-year-old Light said. “For me personally, my family and everybody else, we’re really excited to be back here in New England. There has not been a time in my life that I’ve been more ready to play the game of football.”
The article also has a video of the interview, with Light looking really upbeat on his return.
Reiss also writes that over 18,000 fans were on hand to take in last night’s practice, and feels that this new group looks promising, but crowded at this point of the preseason.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe has a good article this morning on the Patriots defense, and writes that the team also has a lot of questions on the defensive line – which is a group that currently has 13 players all battling for a position.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald has an interesting look at the defense, and writes that this group is turning into a version of the ‘nasty boys‘.
Hector Longo of the Eagle Tribune writes that Mayo, Spikes, and Chung hold the key to this year’s ‘new-look’ defense.
PatsPulpit.com has a Q&A with Taylor Price, with Price telling Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald he’s more comfortable coming into this season.
“I feel a lot more comfortable out here. Knowing what to expect. Been through it one year. Just knowing my teammates that much more, knowing the playbook that much more, being there for a year. And just being that much more confident in my game just to go out there and be able to play fast and play football like I’ve always been playing.”
Shalise Manza Young has her “Ask Shalise” Q&A report this morning, and looks at a variety of interesting topics including the fact she doesn’t seem to think Sammy Morris makes the roster, as well as why Bill Belichick elected to pick Jermaine Cunningham instead of his teammate Carlos Dunlap.
Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network said last night that he expects that Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco will succeed just fine in New England – as long as they buy into what Belichick tells them.
Jeff Howe of NESN.com has a good article this morning on Devin McCourty, who he feels has the luxury of practicing against the best QB and receivers in the game, which allows him to learn how to get better after battling the best competition each week.
Tom King of the Nashua Telegraph has an article on Brandon Meriweather, who is looking forward to working with some of the younger players on the roster.
And finally, after seeing Matt Roth and Raheem Brock visit this week, Tom Curran writes that Nick Caserio was tight lipped and wouldn’t reveal any news on either one. So for now fans are left in the dark until New England makes their next move.
That’s it for this morning. Be sure to check back for updates as we’ll have more throughout the day.