FOXBORO, Mass. — After two days of physically intense double-sessions, the Patriots received somewhat of a break Saturday morning with a walkthrough.
They were originally scheduled to conduct another full-pads practice, but head coach Bill Belichick called an audible, and the session was held in shorts and T-shirts.
"It is a break," running back Kevin Faulk said. "It is a relief. Relax, take the mental aspect of the game and focus on that. Leave the physical part for later."
The Patriots held a regular practice Saturday night and still have at least four more days of double-sessions on the horizon.
Belichick said Friday that training camp is all about putting the team under mental and physical stress to see how they respond. While the walkthrough served as a physical break, it's a good bet that the New England coaching staff was extra demanding of the players' mental awareness, and the walkthrough likely determined the tenacity of the day's remaining meetings and film sessions.
The Patriots have lost a handful of players to injury since training camp opened Thursday, although nothing appears serious. Offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, defensive lineman Ty Warren, wide receiver Matthew Slater, safety Bret Lockett, running back Thomas Clayton and defensive lineman Kyle Love had all gone down at some point during the first four practices, which also helped make the walkthrough a welcomed change to the itinerary.
"There's a cost-benefit to doing things," left tackle Matt Light said. "For the younger guys, it's definitely a chance for them to get the mental aspect of it down a little bit more, maybe focus on some of the things that they need to work on, even for the older guys, too. For the guys that have been around here for a little while, it's definitely a reward to your body. It's been pretty physical."
For the older guys, like Light, training camp starts to get physically painful during the first day or so, but second-year receiver Julian Edelman said he's still ready to keep motoring around. That?s another challenge of camp — the coaching staff needs to bring everyone along accordingly, even though various players progress at different speeds, both physically and mentally.
By the end of the first week, no one can hide from the pain of training camp, no matter how many walkthroughs or ice tubs are available. That?s how the coaching staff can judge physical toughness, and excuses are about as welcomed as BP at a convention for marine biologists.
Faulk, who is the Patriots' longest-tenured veteran and one of the most energized players at training camp, just blocks out the pain completely.
"Try not to think about pain," Faulk said. "It's your job. If you're hurting, that may hurt you. You've just got to think about, 'Keep moving.' From practice to practice, keep going."