Players battle the heat – and each other – in Friday’s practice
|08.03.12 at 8:19 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Two days after Nate Solder and Brandon Spikes got into a notable scuffle during practice inside Gillette Stadium at Wednesday night, there were multiple incidents during Friday afternoon’s session out on the practice field. However, the temperature rising up into the 90s in the mid-afternoon sun may have been as much as an instigator as the players themselves.
Linebacker Bobby Carpenter and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell got into an early, uneventful tussle before a fracas between defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick and offensive lineman Darrion Weems opened the door to nearly the whole team mobbing the center of the field. That group ended up sticking together as coach Bill Belichick, having seen enough, sent the entire squad – plus a few coaches – to run three laps.
“As it goes every year, it gets hotter, days get longer.” Carpenter said. “We’re at about nine, 10 days now. Guys start getting a little irritated, agitated, and things get a little hot sometimes, but fortunately, that’s what those laps were for, to cool us off.”
The wind did little to lessen the effect of one of the hottest practices so far this year. The heat combined with a higher stakes environment for many players, as the Patriots move ahead with the new 90-man roster put into place by the new CBA, leading to even more players fighting for the same number of roster spots.
“It’s hot out there. It’s long days of practice, coaches are in your ear, been cooped up in meetings all day, watching film,” second-year running back Stevan Ridley said. “It’s just battling. We have competition going out here. Any time you have people out here competing for a spot, competing for a job, tempers are going to flare. But we’re a team. We’re trying to get better as a group and sometimes that happens. But there’s nothing you can do about it besides move forward, take the coaching and move on.”
By the team the team began to take their laps, the heat had taken a visible toll on the players beyond just their frustrations. Shortly after the players began running, offensive lineman Dan Connolly was taken to the sideline with a trainer, who treated him with wet towels as he attempted to recover.
The Patriots now prepare to welcome the New Orleans Saints to Foxboro next week for a series of practices prior to their first preseason game. The arrival of a new batch of players will be a welcome respite for the Patriots, who have been going up against the same teammates since camp first opened.
“Yeah, we’ve been getting after each other a little bit the past couple of days,” wide receiver Jabar Gaffney said of the team’s frustrations in camp. “So it’ll be good to see another color jersey come in here this week.”
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