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Training Camp Report from Friday morning’s session

07.30.10 at 12:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up a fairly uneventful Friday morning practice session a little while back, with a big crowd taking in the action under a mostly cloudless sky.

•The only two players who were missing and unaccounted for were linebacker Derrick Burgess and offensive lineman Logan Mankins. Rumors persist that Burgess is considering retirement, much to the surprise of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who talked about the veteran in his pre-practice press conference. “We expected him to be here — he’s not here,” Belichick said. “This type of situation certainly isn’t unprecedented. We’ll just deal with it going forward. I’m not exactly sure that I know all the information that I need to know, so that’s what it is for now.”

•Meanwhile, wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, defensive back Bret Lockett, running back Thomas Clayton, wide receiver Wes Welker and defensive lineman Ron Brace were all on the field and in sweats. Wide receiver Sam Aiken, who was not in action yesterday, was in pads this morning. Wide receiver Matthew Slater was not on the field.
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Quick hits from Tom Brady’s Friday morning Q&A

07.30.10 at 11:58 am ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady just wrapped up a 15-minute session with the media. While we’ll have the full Q&A posted shortly, here are a few quick highlights from the session conducted on the field shortly after the end of Friday morning’s training camp session:

Do you feel like you’re almost 33?
I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty good. I try to, like all of us older guys, find a way that works for them to be ready ad to feel energized every day. We were talking about Junior Seau yesterday and how unique it is for a guy like that. But moreso, in the way you train or physically, it’s your attitude as well. Guys who stick around, our attitude is always pretty good, like Kevin Faulk and Torry and Randy … that’s what it’s about. Showing good leadership, and coming out here and having fun.

On taking down the old pictures:
Yeah, I think that’s a good point by him. I think a lot of people want to sit back and reflect and … it’s important. You always learn from the past. You learn from things you’ve done — things that have worked, things that haven’t worked. But you also understand that any of the things that have happened in the past are certainly not going to help this year. And that goes certainly not only for this team but every team in the league. Every team starts fresh. There’s no … as much as you’d love for them to be carryover every year, every year is a completely different new year, with new challenges. And we have plenty of them.

On his contract:
Coach doesn’t like us talking about it a whole lot, so I’ll kind of stick to that. As I said before … I’m in the position that a lot of guys are around the league and on this team. While I’m under contract, it’s my responsibility to come out and play as hard as I can. I’ve always felt that’s what I love to do anyway. I love to come out here and compete. I have a job. I think that’s important to realize too. It’s a tough time in the world, and I’m glad I get to come out here and do something I love.
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Belichick: ‘We expect [Burgess] to be here’

07.30.10 at 9:26 am ET
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nfl_ap_dburgess1_576

Derrick Burgess wasn't present for the first day of training camp. (AP)

FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the fact that outside linebacker Derrick Burgess was unexpectedly absent from the first day of training camp on Thursday.

Speaking at his Friday morning press conference, Belichick sounded like he was caught slightly off guard by the fact that Burgess wasn’t in attendance at either practice on Thursday. According to reports, the 31-year-old is contemplating retirement.

“Derrick wasn’t here yesterday, and we expect him to be here,” Belichick said. “We’ll just deal with it going forward.

“I’m not sure I know all the information I need to know,” added the coach. “We’ll take it day-by-day.”

Burgess was not around, and in his place, the Patriots used a variety of players at his outside linebacker spot, including rookie Jermaine Cunningham and veteran Pierre Woods.

“You hate to not have all the players out there all the time,” Belichick said. “[But] the guys that have the opportunities to play have worked hard and are competitive and will take advantage of it.”

If Burgess does decide to retire, it wouldn’t be the first time that a New England veteran has decided to call it a career at the start of training camp. In one three-year stretch at the start of the decade, veteran offensive linemen Joe Panos, Rich Tylski and Brenden Stai all decided to retire shortly after the start of camp.

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Training Camp Report from Thursday afternoon’s session

07.29.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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Tom Brady stretches before a Thursday practice at Gillette. (AP)

FOXBORO — A few quick notes from the Thursday afternoon practice session that just wrapped up down here at Gillette Stadium:

•The practice went an hour and 45 minutes, and was held under clear skies on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Much nicer weather than the morning sessions with temperatures in the 80s.

•The attendance report was the same as it was in the morning session, as offensive lineman Logan Mankins and outside linebacker Derrick Burgess were missing. (Reports indicate that Burgess is contemplating retirement.) In addition, the same collection of players who were in sweats — wide receivers Darnell Jenkins and Sam Aiken, as well as defensive lineman Ron Brace — were also inactive for the session. In addition, Wes Welker was in attendance for a portion of the afternoon session. He wasn’t being put through the paces as vigorously as he was in the morning session, but the wide receiver was still on the field and (presumably) still part of the PUP list.

•There were a few offensive highlights on the afternoon, with the first coming when wide receiver Brandon Tate made an impressive one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone, coming down with a pass from Brian Hoyer in the end zone on a play that went for approximately 40 yards. (Hoyer also made a really nice connection with David Patten earlier in the same drill.)
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Brown on D&H: Brady’s ‘focus hasn’t changed’

07.29.10 at 3:29 pm ET
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Troy Brown (AP)

Troy Brown (AP)

Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown, who will be joining NFL Sunday on WEEI this football season, joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday to talk about what he does and doesn’t miss about training camp with New England, the status of the Tom Brady, the Patriots’ defensive coordinator position, and the team as a whole.

Following are highlights from the interview. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On training camp and conditioning for the Patriots:

I never came close to failing [a conditioning run] but I’ll tell you a funny story that I’ve never told anybody. I thought I was going to fail one year because I came to training camp, and I have my birthday July 2 and I have my birthday party like every July 4, July 2, or whatever it is. I picked up a table that has the leaves to it or whatever and I picked up one end of it and I didn’t have the bottom end secured, and I picked up end of it and the bottom end fell off and fell on my big toe and cut my big toe and I had to get four stitches in my toe like 10 days before training camp started. … I had to modify my shoe and cut the big toe area out so I would be able to run. But I couldn’t train for like those 10, 11 days up until I got to do the running test and I was so concerned about passing the test, but I think my adrenaline carried me through that situation and got me through it.

On what the regimen was:

That particular year when [Bill] Parcells and Pete Carroll were in town, everything was run by Johnny Parker. His conditioning test was you had to run three, 300-yard shuttles — that’s running 50 yards and back, 50 yards and back, 50 yards and back. … The receivers and guys like myself that were either the running backs or the defensive backs, we had to do it in 56 seconds. It could be quite challenging sometimes. Especially some of the bigger guys that had to do it in 60 seconds. And every year there was probably one or two people that failed that test.

It was always pretty funny in the meeting afterward because Parcells would be like, “Well we released Bruce Walker today, and I guess you could say got released two times in one day.” Because he got released from the hospital for passing out. Then he got released from the team later on that day once they found out he was OK.

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From the sidelines, Welker remains a presence at camp

07.29.10 at 2:00 pm ET
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Patriots Camp Football

Wes Welker was on the field but not in uniform for the first day of training camp on Thursday. (AP)

FOXBORO — He wasn’t on the field with the rest of his teammates, but Wes Welker was a presence at the first day of Patriots’ training camp.

The wide receiver, currently rehabbing a left knee injury he suffered in the regular-season finale against the Texans last year, started the morning in a red T-shirt and shorts, stretching with his teammates before working out on the sidelines and extra practice field with Harold Nash and Joe Van Allen of the strength and conditioning staff.

But this wasn’t a player going through the motions — for a large bulk of the practice session, Van Allen had Welker tethered to a resistance rope, and was clearly putting him through a series of strenuous drills, most of which included catching passes. There was work on agility and footwork, all presumably designed to get the receiver back on the field sooner rather than later.

Welker was placed on the active/PUP list earlier this week, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick sounded like he was placing Welker in a large group of players he described as “day-to-day.”

“We have, unfortunately, a few guys that aren’t quite ready yet, but they’re all in that day-to-day category,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes on a day-to-day basis, but hopefully we’ll see them out here at some point here in training camp.”

Later, Belichick did talk specifically about Welker.

“[He’s] like everybody else who has had an ACL [injury] — it’s a long rehab,” said Belichick. “Players go through different stages of it. You work on things and improve on them and if there are no setbacks, then you go to the next level. If you hit a little sticking point then you back off and wait until that clears up and move ahead.

“There’s a long way to go and we’ll see how that whole process takes place. I think the last 10 to 20 percent on those injuries is the hardest part to get back. We’ll see how it goes.”

Last week, there was some talk about Welker being ready to go for the start of camp, and several reports have indicated he remains ahead of schedule in the rehab process.

“I know the coaches and teammates have confidence in me just like I do them, and we’re just going to move along as quickly as we can,” he said last month. “I want to get back as early as possible. Whenever that is, is when it is. My main goal is just working hard and getting back with my teammates as early as possible.”

In 14 games last season, Welker led the NFL with 123 receptions and finished second in receiving yards with 1,348. Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, he’s caught 346 passes, more than anyone else in the league in that time.

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Report: Burgess pondering retirement

07.29.10 at 1:37 pm ET
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Patriots outside linebacker Derrick Burgess is considering retirement, according to a report from ESPN. Burgess, who had five sacks last year in his first season with New England, was not present for the first training camp workout on Thursday morning. The 31-year-old signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the offseason with the Patriots.

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