FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots outside linebacker Derrick Burgess looked like a man who missed 22 practices when he returned to New England on Sunday. He was sluggish off the ball and a step behind in tackling drills, but all in all, that was probably to be expected.
Burgess said he missed the first two weeks of training camp due to a personal situation regarding family business. Reports indicated Burgess was contemplating retirement, but Burgess continuously dismissed that notion during a three-minute session with the media. He also said he had Bill Belichick's permission to stay away from camp to handle the issue.
"I just had a personal situation going on," Burgess said after taking part in two practices Sunday. "I had to take time to take care of, and me and Bill [talked] about it, and he just told me to take my time and get my stuff together.
"I'm happy to be here. I'm glad they allowed me to come back after taking care of my personal business."
Whatever the issue happened to be, Burgess said it came up "right before training camp" and he stayed in constant contact with Belichick. During Burgess' absence, Belichick was asked almost daily about Burgess' situation, and the head coach at one point quipped that he didn’t have a crystal ball and couldn’t forecast when everything would get resolved.
"It felt good [to get back]," Burgess said. "It felt good. A little rusty, but it felt good to run into somebody. That always helps."
In any event, Burgess is back, and he'll help provide depth at a thin position. The Patriots have also used Tully Banta-Cain, rookie Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Ninkovich, Marques Murrell and Pierre Woods at outside linebacker.
Burgess said he worked out at home in Mississippi and is in good shape. Judging by the fact that he passed his physical when he reported Friday, it appears as though Burgess did a good job of training for the upcoming season. He said it won't be long before he's fully back in football shape and ready to play, although he wasn’t sure if the coaching staff would utilize him during Thursday night's preseason game in Atlanta.
Burgess also stated he is "fully committed" to football and the organization. And when asked if he felt like it might have benefited him to miss two weeks of double-sessions — from a fresh-legs perspective, anyway — Burgess scoffed.
"Benefit? It doesn't benefit me," Burgess said. "It might slow me up a little, but I mean I'm still a little bit ahead of where I was last year, so that's always good."
Now, Burgess is excited to get his mind back to football, and he said he's past whatever was ailing him at home. If he can get back into the swing of things and pick up the momentum he created late in 2009, the Patriots will be in better shape with him around.
"It wasn't like I was just missing camp," Burgess said. "I had too much on my mind with the things I needed to take care of. There was no relief there. It was relief when I was done with it and was able to come to camp. That was my relief."