FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cleaning out the New England Patriots notebook through the first four days of training camp with a touchdown's worth of nuggets that caught my eye:
1. Pace/tempo is important to Belichick: It doesn't take long for one to see how pace and tempo is a big thing for Bill Belichick. Probably the best example came on Friday, the second day of practice, when the club was transitioning from one session to the next. Belichick wanted more urgency, and that seemed to include not just players, but also from coaches and support staffers whose job it was to set up the next drill (e.g. positioning trash barrels upside down to serve as offensive linemen). So he blew his whistle and ordered everyone back to the previous session of practice. Belichick let that session continue for a minute or so before blowing his whistle to indicate that it was time to switch. The pace/tempo and urgency was much better the second time around.
2. Belichick coaches the entire roster: On Saturday, the first practice in full pads, the field was split. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo went to one end zone with most of the first- and second-unit players on offense and defense, while quarterback Jacoby Brissett was on the opposite side with mostly rookies and third-stringers on both sides of the ball. Where was Belichick? With the third-stringers, and at one point I watched him pull undrafted safety Damarius Travis (Minnesota) aside to give him some instruction. The next day, he did something similar with undrafted linebacker Brooks Ellis (Arkansas), seemingly going over the finer points of dropping into coverage. This was a reminder that Belichick coaches every player on the 90-man roster, because the development of some lower-end prospects could pay off down the road.
3. Learning more about Croston: Undrafted free-agent offensive lineman Cole Croston is the player who got a bump up the depth chart when second-string guard Chase Farris was lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Croston, listed at 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds, played for former Belichick assistant Kirk Ferentz at the University of Iowa, and I watched him get after it in a half-line running drill. I could see how offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia might also like his feet, as Croston moves well in a way that could fit nicely in the Patriots' zone-based scheme. Croston, who has played both guard spots on the second unit, is a player I'm interested in watching in the days to come.
4. Wise's physical makeup stands out: One of the things I learned from watching training camp with ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates over the years is to focus on the physical traits of players as much, if not more, than the result of plays or one-on-one matchups. Along those lines, fourth-round draft pick Deatrich Wise Jr., the defensive end from Arkansas, stands out to me. Wearing Jamie Collins' old No. 91, the 6-5, 271-pound Wise is long and more athletic than I expected based on pre-draft scouting reports, but he's obviously very raw. The traits are there, and Wise is also said to have off-the-charts intangibles, so it will be notable to see how quickly, if at all, those traits could be harnessed into something greater.
5. Crowds have been immense: The story should almost always be about the players and coaches, but when 53,890 show up over the first four days of training camp, one can't overlook what type of energy that brings to the two practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The Gillette Stadium ramps overlooking the practice fields had to be opened to accommodate the overflow on all four days.
6. Special teams could give O'Shaughnessy an edge: Through four days of camp, the club has devoted one day to each of its four core special teams units -- punt return, punt coverage, kickoff return and kickoff coverage. When I saw tight end James O'Shaughnessy (acquired from the Chiefs in an offseason trade) on the kickoff coverage unit with a group comprised of most core special teamers, it was a point I jotted down because it might give him the edge over Matt Lengel, Jacob Hollister and Sam Cotton in the competition to be the No. 3 tight end.