New England Patriots Super Bowl Champs

Patriots training camp update: Day one

The New England Patriots wrapped up the first full day of training camp on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium this afternoon. Here are the highlights from the first day of training camp:

Wes Welker recovery update: Wes Welker did not participate in either practice, but dressed in shorts and a cutoff t-shirt, worked extensively with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. Welker remains on the active/physically unable to perform list.

Slater and Lockett injured: ESPN’s Mike Rodak is reporting that wide receiver Matthew Slater and defensive back Bret Lockett were injured during practice today. During passing drills, wide receiver Slater appeared to suffer a left ankle injury. He was examined by the team’s medical staff, limped to the middle of the field and did not return to practice. Later in the session, safety Lockett was seen leaving the field under his own power with a member of the medical staff.

Attendance strong: Only four players on the entire roster (Wes Welker, Ron Brace, Darnell Jenkins and Sam Aiken) did not practice for either session, but instead worked on strength and conditioning on the sidelines in sweats/shorts.

Derrick Burgess a no show: Outside linebacker Derrick Burgess, who is considering retirement after failing to show up to training camp, was absent from both practices. With Burgess gone, Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich worked with the first team, with rookie Jermaine Cunningham getting extensive reps as well. Ninkovich was asked about his expanded role on defense after the first of the Patriots two practices, “This is the most opportunity with reps I’ve had,” noted Ninkovich, a five-year veteran who has not started a game in the NFL. “I was a little nervous and antsy when camp came because I knew I would have the opportunity. I’m just grateful to be here and doing what I’m doing. I have to make the best of it.”

Logan Mankins holdout: As expected, starting left guard Logan Mankins did not report for training camp as he is not under contract. Nick Kaczur worked at left guard in his place. When asked how much experience he’s had playing guard in games, Kaczur’s reply was quick. “None,” he said. Bill Belichick spoke on the holdout prior to the morning session of training camp, “Logan’s not under contract,” Belichick said while saying that the players that are in Foxborough are the one’s who are under contract. The restricted free agent guard has not signed his RFA tender and voiced his desire to be traded earlier this offseason.

Patriots searching for new identity: With such an influx of youth on both sides of the ball, the bare walls on the inside of Gillette Stadium, once adorned with celebratory shots of Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, and Rodney Harrison, immediately resonated with players and staff. The bare walls serve as an indication that the Patriots are looking to form a new identity as a team this season.

New look at tight end. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports, with three new tight ends this season, veteran Alge Crumpler and rookies Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, a major question entering training camp was which one would emerge to see the most playing time going into the season. That question wasn’t answered today, as all three tight ends rotated their reps with the first-team offensive line and Tom Brady. The position battle will continue but its worth noting that both rookies got a lot of work on the first day of training camp.

Spikes entrenched at middle linebacker: reports that rookie middle linebacker Brandon Spikes got plenty of reps with the first team, and continued to work on getting calls from the sideline and relaying them for the defense. It’s hard to look at it any other way, the Patriots have big plans for the kid. The problems for him seem to arise in coverage, which was the knock on him all along.

Pepper Johnson gets birthday Gatorade bath: Today was Patriots assistant coach Pepper Johnson’s birthday. To celebrate, the team sang to Pepper, and then defensive end Ty Warren gave him a celebratory Gatorade bath. Warren even left the Gatorade cooler on top of Johnson’s head. Its worth noting that Patriots owner Robert Kraft was in attendance for both practice sessions.

The Patriots return to the field on Friday for another day of double sessions, with the morning workout getting underway at 9:30 a.m.

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