FOXBORO, Mass. — Training camp is merely a week old, and the Patriots have already changed in a big way. While the storylines have begun to take shape, even more will emerge over the next week as the veteran signees can begin practice. For now, let's roll through these 20 thoughts.
1. Wednesday is Tom Brady's 34th birthday. Where has the time gone?
2. I believe Chad Ochocinco when he says he wants to quiet it down with the media this season and solely concentrate on football. I also don't think he'll do anything too wild in terms of touchdown celebrations that could cost the team 15 yards. It's not as fun, but oh well.
3. However, Ochocinco clearly isn't pumping the brakes on Twitter — literally. He's already tried to organize a "Prius party" on I-95, which is pretty hilarious in a strange kind of way.
4. Cornerback Leigh Bodden has known Ochocinco for several years, both on and off the field, as the two used to square off twice per season when Bodden played for the Browns. Bodden was impressed that Ochocinco asked him for advice during practice over the weekend, saying that it's very rare for a receiver to seek out help from a cornerback.
5. Bodden said of Ochocinco, "He's a good guy and funny, but he's also a workaholic. It's just good to see him happy and ready to play."
6. Albert Haynesworth said he found out about the trade to the Patriots by receiving a text message from his agent at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Haynesworth's response? "Hell yeah."
7. I found it interesting that Haynesworth attended the Patriots' AFC Championship victory against the Chargers in January 2008. Even more interesting is that Haynesworth received the tickets from Rodney Harrison. If one of the greatest Patriots of this generation — and one of the guys who came to Foxboro with a less-than-sterling reputation — liked Haynesworth enough to give him tickets to sit in the family section, that should be considered a good sign on Haynesworth's behalf.
8. Haynesworth also said he "loved" the idea of signing with the Patriots in free agency in 2009, but he passed on New England over monetary reasons. I'll blame the guy for not performing for $100 million, but I don't think I'll ever blame anyone for taking $100 million.
9. Haynesworth has known Vince Wilfork since the two were at the Pro Bowl together in 2007, and the new Patriot shared a conversation they had together in Hawaii. "The funny thing is when we were at the Pro Bowl, I said, 'Man, what if we were on the same team? That'd be crazy.' He said, 'No way that's going to happen.' But shoot, look, two or three years later, here we are."
10. Last Haynesworth note: He gave a very praiseworthy response when asked why he respected the Patriots so much from the outside, and then how that has translated in the last week.
"Being outside, I don't know, just the way [Bill Belichick] handles the team and everything," Haynesworth said. "Now being inside, it's very detail oriented. He demands perfection every time. I've been on some really good teams with a lot of great players, but I've never been in a situation where it's like perfection every time. And not, like, for a person, but for a team."
11. Never taking himself too seriously, Dan Koppen replied, "I can't stand it," when he was asked Tuesday how he felt about reuniting with Matt Light and Logan Mankins.
12. The Patriots practiced inside Gillette Stadium for the first time Wednesday night, and it's their annual event that is restricted for season-ticket holders and Foxboro residents. The thing I like about this practice is that the media gets to watch from the field on the sideline. I remember two things sticking out last year: Jermaine Cunningham's size and undrafted rookie Dane Fletcher looking like a kid who could make the roster.
13. I've said it before, but it holds new meaning now that he's finally taken the field for the first time. Rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling is extremely tall for the position, at least compared to the Patriots' other corners. Dowling is listed at 6-foot-1, but I think he's an inch taller than that, if not two. Because of his size, people wonder if he can play safety. Let's watch him at cornerback for a little while before thinking about anything else, though.
14. Jonathan Crompton was released this week, which is really only significant for one reason: He's the only quarterback on the roster to sink a ball in the barrel drill. Reigning champ Brian Hoyer, Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett have not made one yet, which effectively makes Crompton the leader in the clubhouse.
15. Julian Edelman is a devout San Francisco Giants fan, so it was a little weird to see him wearing a Blue Jays hat last week. I asked him about it, and he said he just has a bunch of old snap-back hats that he rotates every now and then.
16. Rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett has stayed after practice every day to work on his footwork with a member of the coaching staff. Mallett has had a tough start to camp — including penalty laps Sunday and Tuesday — but it's not because he's not working at it. He's just dealing with typical rookie quarterback issues with timing, a much faster pace to the game and his read recognition.
17. Patrick Chung has awesome practice habits. One new thing during this training camp: Any time he's near the ball carrier after the play, he tries to force a fumble with a quick strip or by attempting to rip it out of the player's hands. It helps Chung, but it will especially benefit the offensive players who have learned to play through, and even past, the whistle. While it might get annoying for the ball carriers, it will keep their focus sharp.
18. Leigh Bodden might have tweaked something during Tuesday's practice, and he appeared to stretch out his groin or thigh midway through the session. However, he didn't miss any drills.
19. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen were both very impressive in Tuesday's blocking drills. They dominated the linebackers — albeit, none of them were starters — in one-on-one pass-protection drills.
20. Spikes had the best single practice of anyone at camp during Sunday's afternoon session. The team's other standouts have been Devin McCourty, Bodden, Haynesworth (for about 10 live reps, at least), Chung, Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski.
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