For some fans, training camp is one of the few times that they get an opportunity to see their favorite Patriots players in action. For fans that happen to be season ticket holders or residents of Foxborough, they get to experience a training camp session in a very unique way,: inside Gillette Stadium.
With 20,000 fans making their way to Gillette Stadium on Monday evening, there was no doubt that the Patriots were going to put on a show.
Key observations for Monday include the Patriots signing wide receiver Rod Owens and tight end Carson Butler, fans and players enjoy in-stadium session, the veteran presence and the defensive debacle.
Another Receiver, Another Tight End
Monday morning’s announcement of the signing of former Florida State receiver Rod Owens and tight end Carson Butler only reinforced the Patriots’ focus on the wide receiver and tight end positions.
The team currently has 11 wide receivers and four tight ends on the roster but has only been practicing with 67 total players.
Owens, the rookie free agent was released by the St. Louis Rams in May after being signed in April. The former Seminole was productive with 61 receptions for 729 yards. Butler, on the other hand, played for a total of six different NFL teams in 2009 alone.
Both players’ chances of landing a spot on the final roster are slim but will add depth to each of the positions for the remainder of training camp.
The Importance of In-Stadium Practice
“I think that will be a good opportunity for all the players to work in the stadium with the new turf..” Coach Belichick continued, ”Definitely for the specialists to be able to kick on that surface, but also for the returners to deal with the lights and just the stadium surroundings and so forth and just get used to seeing the markings on the field, the 40-second clock and just playing in that environment.”
The “environment” within Gillette Stadium, is definitely a challenge all on its own. Between becoming familiar with the new turf, roaring fans and notoriously inclement weather, any opportunity that a rookie has to step onto the field prior to the first preseason game will prove to be greatly beneficial.
Monday night’s attendees also had the chance to experience the new high definition screen located in the South endzone. The screen will be utilized to show more replays and also will feature the Red Zone Channel to show highlights from other games.
The Veteran Presence
Alge Crumpler and Torry Holt. Two players that were brought on to the Patriots team to do what they’ve been doing for a combined 20+ seasons. That part is obvious, but what’s more important is Crumpler and Holt’s other field duties: Setting an example for the rookies.
Bill Belichick spoke briefly about the two on Monday morning, “...I think both Alge and Torry have worked hard. They bring a good veteran presence to the team.”
The Patriots have depended on key leadership roles to be filled in each position. With Tom Brady taking the helm offensively, the fresh talent in both the tight end and wide receiver positions needed their own experienced veteran.
From what Belichick learned of Crumpler and Holt, both seemed to be the perfect fit.
“Those guys have had a lot of success in this league and they have the reputation – and from the information that we have on them – prepare well, work hard, know what to do, are very good with their teammates...”
The Defensive Dilemma
Derrick Burgess has yet to make an appearance at Patriots camp. Not to worry, as the coaching staff has already began prepping just in case they find themselves with an abruptly retired outside linebacker.
It was reported that the Patriots worked out Adewale Ogunleye the former defensive end for the Chicago Bears. In 2009, he amassed 38 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Although no confirmation as to whether or not the Patriots sign Ogunleye, they have now opened their eyes to other options that could possibly add depth to the dwindling depth chart.
Kisha Tapangan is a contributing writer for PatriotsInsider.com She also maintains her personal blog Necessary Roughness and can be found on Twitter @KishaT. Be sure to check in all camp long for regular updates by Kisha from Foxboro