Patriots Feeling Effects of Grueling Training Camp


Aug 10, 2009

Patriots Feeling Effects of Grueling Training Camp This past weekend marked a transition period for the New England Patriots, who are nearly two full weeks into an intensely difficult training camp.

After starting camp with eight consecutive days of double sessions, head coach Bill Belichick adjusted the team's schedule to give his players some much-needed rest.

The Patriots had a walkthrough in shorts and T-shirts Friday morning, and Belichick canceled their afternoon session before giving everyone the day off Saturday. They had one practice Sunday and are scheduled for double sessions Monday and Tuesday before they travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday for their preseason opener against the Eagles on Thursday.

With the rigorous start to camp — the eight consecutive double sessions, almost entirely in full pads, are unprecedented in the Belichick era — the Patriots are further along in their preparations for the season at this point than in years past.

"I think, generally, the team's in pretty good condition," Belichick said. "They've worked hard out there. We've been in pads a lot. We've had a lot of contact. We've had a lot of practices, and I think they've done a good job of pushing through it and staying focused."

Belichick said the players looked "refreshed" when they got back to the field Sunday afternoon, and they had a spirited practice as a result. While Belichick won't say for certain why he decided to start camp with so many two-a-days, it's fair to speculate that he wanted to grab his team's attention immediately, especially after they lost all four of their preseason games in 2008. Plus, the Patriots have failed to win the Super Bowl in four straight seasons, which presumably isn't sitting well with the coach.

The grind of training camp has been difficult on the players' bodies, and they're pretty banged up because of the heavy workload. It's the price the Patriots have to pay in order to advance their preparations.

"You go and sit down by your locker, and you're talking to other guys and you're like, 'Man, you know what, we've got another one. We've got another one,'" outside linebacker Pierre Woods said. "Sometimes, your mind is like, 'Man, I can't do it.' In your mind, your body is telling you that you can't do it, but then you've just got to say, 'Get there.' We've got to keep pushing. We're trying to get better.

"That's the whole thing about training camp. Everybody is going out there trying to get better no matter what it is," Woods added. "Everybody is hurt. Everybody. You see one of your teammates hurting, and they know you're hurting. They ask how you're doing. You ask how they're doing. 'Man, we're doing good.' That's all there is to it. Let's go."

Friday's lightened workload is a good sign for the Patriots' progression, as Belichick rewarded them for their strong showing in camp. He said the purpose of the walkthrough was to tighten up some loose ends and correct prior mistakes. The practice was also shortened, which meant they were successful in those attempts.  

During the first day of camp, Belichick made sure to note there wasn't any light at the end of the tunnel, but he changed his tone Friday afternoon, saying, "There's a glimmer of light. I hope it's not another train."

At the end of the day, the players understand this will all be worth it. Once again, the Patriots have a tremendous chance to contend for the Super Bowl, and they'll gladly exchange a few bumps and bruises for some jewelry.

"Training camp is definitely grueling," Woods said. "It's stressful at times, but you know what, the ending results — if you get W's — that'll take care of everything else."

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