|06.19.11 at 4:53 pm ET|
Former Patriots fullback Heath Evans talked to us awhile back about his sixth annual 7-on-7 football tournament, and it went off Saturday afternoon at his old high school, The Kings Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla. As expected, it had a heavy New England flavor ‘ Evans played with the Patriots from 2005 through 2008, and was joined by defensive lineman Vince Wilfork and defensive back Darius Butler, as well as Wilfork’s wife Bianca. In addition, former Patriots on hand included linebacker Don Davis and wide receiver Donte Stallworth.
Evans took to Twitter Saturday night to celebrate their attendance, telling me “[They] knocked it out of the park today! Donte especially!” Stallworth added: “Great times, bro. … Heath Evans is a BEAST!!! I’ve always had love for him but even more so now (if it’s possible).”
Gatorcountry.com has the full report on the day’s activities here. Evans’ tournament is unique for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it comes with a lunchtime talk from NFL players like Wilfork on integrity, making the right choices and how to truly accomplish success.
‘They get a chance to hear from someone who’s living it,’ said Wilfork, who was in attendance for the third straight year. ‘A lot of these guys have the dream of playing at the level that we’re already at.
‘It’s just an amazing event,’ he added. ‘A great way to just stay in touch with the future. You get a prime look at the future before it even gets here.’
‘I think so many kids set goals on what they think is at the end of the rainbow, and when they hear that when you get there, you’ve still got these issues and you’re still faced with tough decisions,’ Evans said. ‘I think it kind of gives them a glimpse of hope of what is true perspective, what are the things I really need to be chasing after, and just knowing that there’s guys that are rooting for them that have been where they’re at, and know what they’re facing, and can encourage them in the right direction.’
|06.19.11 at 12:54 am ET|
We’ve been able to track down several other players during the lockout, and on Saturday, we came across offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, working with kids as part of a ‘Football For YOU’ clinic in Providence with teammate Jermaine Cunningham and almost 70 kids. You can see part of the conversation here ‘ here’s more of what the guard talked about with me.
What brings you out to Providence today? ‘This is just a great event. Getting young area kids out here working on skills, and maybe getting an opportunity to play football this time of the year ‘ or potentially at all, when otherwise they wouldn’t get a chance to do so.’
Going to teach them the same way that Dante Scarnecchia coaches you guys? ‘Maybe leave out some of the expletives [laughing]. I see a lot of that going on out here already. These coaches that they’ve brought out here helping these young guys, it’s great. You start somewhere, and I remember going to camps like this as a kid for lacrosse and football, and it’s important to do these sorts of things.’
How has your offseason been? ‘It’s been different [laughter], but good. I’ve gotten to see more of my family and my friends, but I haven’t been distracted from my job, which is to train hard and be ready for whenever everything gets sorted out. I’m excited for a season ‘ I think there will be one. I just hopeful that both sides can come to an agreement soon.’
We hear good things about the labor situation ‘ have you heard anything? Is there any cause for optimism? ‘You know what? Like everybody else, we just sit and wait. We gather what we can from the media, and I would say that just general optimism is the way I’ve approached this. I kind of feel like this is kind of an extended offseason, not as much work with the team, if everybody does their job, when we get back together and reconvene ‘ whenever that is ‘ the team will be the same team and we’ll work hard to win games. Just like every one of the other 31 teams in the National Football League.
Where have you been working out? Here? At home? ‘It’s been a little bit of a mixture. I’ve been doing some stuff on my own, some stuff with other guys ‘ obviously, there are some other offensive line guys still in town. We’ve been doing some things together. But in general, it’s about doing your job and knowing what you need to do to be ready whenever it is when we get back, and so that’s what I’ve been concentrating on.’
What are some of the things you want to improve on this offseason? ‘Just in general coming in to the season healthy and in great shape. Stronger than I was last season. The offseasom grants you the ability to concentrate on speed, athleticism and strength training, as opposed to just being geared toward getting ready for the next game week. That’s the focus of every offseason. My training so far has been going in that direction, and I’ve been happy with all of that.’
|06.18.11 at 8:01 pm ET|
With the spring portion of the NFL calendar now completely wiped out because of the lockout, the time missed for the rookies is incalculable ‘ this year’s rookie class won’t have a chance to take part in the offseason team activities, the spring minicamps or get a head start on learning the playbook.
It’s something I’ve already covered here, and on Saturday afternoon, I had a chance to ask a couple more Patriots’ veterans about what sort of impact that missed time could have on this rookie class. Offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham were appearing at the ‘Football For YOU’ clinic in Providence, and in between sessions with nearly 70 kids, they discussed what sort of consequences could go along with the rookies missing the entire spring calendar.
‘It’s definitely important,’ Ohrnberger said. ‘The more time you can spend in the system, the more comfortable you’ll be and the better off you’ll be for it. So there will be some catching up for some of those guys. But it’s a different kind of offseason. They’re going to be pushed right into the mix when we get going. Just based on the kind of guys this organization brings in, I think they’ll be all right. We have good coaches, and I feel strongly about that. I think they’ll be OK.’
‘All that helps, just being around our teammates and learning the playbook and just getting better with the team. That all helps,’ Cunningham said. ‘But you can’t do anything about it now. Just stay in top of everything and be ready.’
Both Cunningham and Ohrnberger are relatively young players ‘ a rookie last season, this is Cunningham’s first NFL offseason ‘ and have admittedly had trouble adjusting to the fact that with the lockout, the rules are different this offseason.
‘It is weird. They say after your first year, that’s the biggest jump, when a guy makes that leap. But like I said, for me coming in, this first year, having this lockout, it’s kind of difficult. But you have to go with it and just be ready,’ Cunningham said. ‘The only think I can say is that I’m going to go into it like the season is coming and just be ready.’
‘It’s been different, but good,’ Ohrnberger said. ‘I’ve gotten to see more of my family and my friends, but I haven’t been distracted from my job, which is to train hard and be ready for whenever everything gets sorted out. I’m excited for a season ‘ I think there will be one. I just hopeful that both sides can come to an agreement soon.’
|06.17.11 at 7:09 pm ET|
We’ve done a pretty good job tracking Wes Welker over the course of the offseason. First, he was talking about how much he loved the lockout … which was later revealed to be a bit of a joke. Then, he was at his football camp in Massachusetts, followed by an appearance at Bommaritos Performance System in South Florida and then, at the players-only workouts at Boston College.
The latest entry in “Where In The World Is Wes Welker?” comes from across the Atlantic, where the wide receiver was spotted at the Royal Ascot, a series of horse races in Great Britain. Click here for the complete story, including an … interesting … first exchange between Welker and the unsuspecting reporter.
Welker, who was a part-owner of one of the competing horses, was excited about the opportunity to be a part of such a prestigious competition.
“I’m very nervous right now,” he said. “We had an opportunity to come here to Royal Ascot and I thought, I can’t miss this.”
“I enjoy it deeply. I’ve always kind of enjoyed it, the competition of it all,” added Welker. “I got in touch with some friends that have friends in the business. Now I’m a minority owner that’s having a fun time with it. I’m here until Sunday and then I get back home to start training again.”
|06.17.11 at 4:31 pm ET|
The Patriots spent a lot of time this week congratulating the Bruins for their Stanley Cup championship. First, there was an outpouring from the players on Twitter. Then, the Kraft family took out ads in area newspapers celebrating the success of the Bruins. Now, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has chimed in.
Via the team’s official Twitter page Friday morning, Belichick, who was frequently seen at Bruins’ playoff games throughout the postseason, offered his two cents: “Congratulations to Claude Julien & the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. What an incredible display of resiliency & toughness. This TEAM was an absolute pleasure to watch.”
|06.16.11 at 11:22 pm ET|
Patriots safety Patrick Chung isn’t a chatty guy.
One of the only members of New England’s secondary who isn’t on Twitter, the Oregon product usually shuns the spotlight, and has laid low since the start of the offseason. But he did take some time to speak with Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly recently, and he touched on a number of topics, including how things went at the players-only workouts at Boston College earlier this month, his versatility at the safety position and how he’s moved on from the botched punt call in the playoff loss to the Jets.
On the workouts at Boston College and what was gained: “You’ve got to be on time. Receivers have to be on time with quarterbacks. DBs have to be on time with the communicating. It was also good to get the rookies out there to get them a jump on the playbook.”
On his versatility: “The more things you can do, the more opportunities you get. You get to blitz, cover, be in the box or in the deep middle ‘ all different types of things. It’s good to do as many things as possible, it shows value. … I’m one of those guys that tries to be great at everything, and you have got to keep working to be great. Mentally with the playbook and physically ‘ speed, quickness, strength and endurance. Anything you can think of, I’m working on that now.”
The botched punt call against the Jets: “Blocked it out. Move on. The last time I talked about it is right now. I’m over that and I’m getting ready for next season.”
To check out the entire interview, click here.
|06.16.11 at 1:04 pm ET|
SI.com has unveiled its eighth annual “Fortunate 50″ package, which takes a look at the 50 highest-paid American athletes, and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checks in at No. 9 on the list.
According to SI, Brady makes $30,007,280 overall, with $20,007,280 in annual salary and $10,000,000 in endorsements. Brady, who was 28th last year, is the third football player on the list, trailing Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning (who totals $38,070,000 in combined salary to come in fourth overall) and Atlanta signal-caller Matt Ryan ($32,700,000 total, eighth overall).