FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Sirius XM NFL Radio was on hand at Patriots training camp this week, devoting a four-hour block of programming to the team Monday.
Co-hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan watched a full-pads practice and had interviews with owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich, running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley and safety Devin McCourty.
For any fan of the team, the broadcast was a high-level discussion that shed great insight on the Patriots, as is usually the case on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
Here were 13 picked-up pieces:
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Ridley had a notable comment regarding his offseason diet and coming into camp in better shape: “Obviously that didn’t go too well. Coach still has me in there in ‘Fat Camp’ and running and trying to get this weight off me.”
Ridley on how he’s worked on improving his fumbling: “It’s more mental. I found myself in past years, when I was making a mistake, to harp on the mistake and it’s in my head, ‘Don’t fumble, don’t fumble.’ So I found myself thinking about it. I have to put more of that energy into focusing on my elbow being tucked in, keeping my elbow glued to my ribs, keeping the tip of the ball north and south, and having the ball in the right position. If I’m focused on that, then my mind is not first on the fumbling or not fumbling.”
Robert Kraft’s impressions of Darrelle Revis: “He does everything with such ease. His sense of anticipation and the way he moves, he’s not breathless, he’s just doing everything in stride. What I like about him and maybe some of the media had portrayed him differently before he came here, he’s a very understated kind of guy. There is not a lot of bravado. I notice a lot other guys are drawn to him and he does it, in in my opinion, in a very classy way, an understated way.”
Kraft called the head coach position in the NFL one of the most draining jobs, estimating that it takes probably 20 hours per day to do it well. Along those lines, he shared his thought on 62-year-old Bill Belichick: “What amazes me is his energy.”
When Kirwan said to Brady that 45 years old would be the marker in which he retires from the NFL, Brady chuckled. “That sounds about right for me,” Brady responded.
Third-year defensive end Chandler Jones said he has actually dropped weight from his 2012 rookie season, from 266 to 260, but he’s added more muscle.
Jones said with experience, he’s become more of a reactive rusher compared to his rookie season, when he often had more of a predetermined plan. This showed on the practice field, when in one repetition he sold the outside move, took what the tackle gave him, then beat him to the inside.
The Patriots have featured a half-line running drill in practice in which the center, guard, tackle and tight end attempt to create openings, and Belichick explained one of the reasons that drill has been so prevalent is that it eliminates the odds of players on the ground and big pileups that could lead to injury in more full-team drills. At the same time, the half-line running drill provides players a chance to build the all-important fundamentals.
Random nugget, Part I: Defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who wears Mike Vrabel’s old No. 50 and has sometimes been compared to Vrabel, said the two have never met.
Random nugget, Part II: Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has picked up a few nicknames from teammates – “Jimmy G” and “Goo-op" among them.
Safety Devin McCourty added context to news that he trained with Revis in Arizona in the weeks leading up to training camp, saying that he was planning to train in Arizona before Revis’ signing with the Patriots. McCourty’s connection to the workouts in Arizona was with former Cardinals and Patriots safety Adrian Wilson, one of his close friends.
McCourty said one of the things that stands out with backup quarterback Ryan Mallett is arm strength. “That dude can sling the ball,” he said. “His rookie year was during the lockout and I remember the player-organized camp we [had] and you could just hear the ball coming out of his hand. At times you think you’re in the deep part of the field and you realize you’re not when Mallett’s throwing the ball. There are a couple guys when you play – the Joe Flaccos, the Ben Roethlisbergers -- who have those big arms as well. Mallett really prepares you for that.”
McCourty called receiver Kenbrell Thompkins one of the hardest workers on the team, noting that he could have been satisfied with contributing as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Instead, “all offseason, you saw him putting in the work.”