Bruschi Sees Talent In The New Faces

Tedy Bruschi (AP Photo)

Sometimes even the best known players on the Patriots get asked about everyone else in camp. Tedy Bruschi can't be worried about what everyone else is doing, but he realizes there are a lot of new faces in Foxboro.

Tedy Bruschi has pretty much seen it all in his 13 seasons in New England. He's been the rookie. He's been the guy switching positions. He's been hurt. He's been healthy. He's been a winner. And he's been a loser.

With that sort of experience comes a certain degree of credibility when it comes to giving fans an early, insider look at what's going on in the first week of training camp. The team's leading tackler from a year ago and the man controlling the middle of the Pats defense brings a unique perspective to comments on some of the more interesting storylines taking hold this summer at Gillette Stadium.

Hitting closest to home is the battle for the job next to Bruschi at inside linebacker in New England's 3-4 front. So far in camp that spot has been held by first-year Patriot Tank Williams, a guy who spent his previous six NFL seasons playing safety. How does the former Pro Bowler think his current playing partner has looked through his first few days of camp at a new position?

"Good at times and other times he has to learn things," Bruschi said. "He's never done it before. So he's learning. I think it's different for him taking on guards sometimes at that type level. He's used to second level sort of situations where he has a little bit more space. Surprisingly, he's accepted it all and he's done a good job of it doing the best he can out there. He's still with the first group working hard and I think it's different for seeing him in there, a 20 number there, and a smaller body. But he's getting the job done."

Another candidate battling for playing time at inside linebacker is first-round pick Jerod Mayo. The physically gifted No. 10 overall selection has spent camp working alongside free agent addition Victor Hobson with the second unit, trying to learn the complexities of Bill Belichick's defensive scheme.

"He's coming. I think the biggest thing is just his attitude," Bruschi said, clearly impressed by his young understudy. "He's willing to learn. He's willing to learn and he's asking questions and you can see the ability he has out here. He's running and hitting and physical at times. I think what I'm most impressed about is just his attitude and just his willingness to accept this system."

While Bruschi is witnessing the competition first hand at linebacker, the intense battles at other spots aren't exactly his first concern at this point in camp. Like linebacker, there are starting jobs to be won at cornerback where veterans and rookies are going head to head in an effort to win roles with the defending AFC champs.

As experienced as Bruschi is, and as much as he might be able to help out the new faces at linebacker, the defensive captain knows he can't be too worried about what's going on behind him on the football field.

"I can't turn around in the middle of the play tell them what to do. That's their area back there," Bruschi said. "So they are going to have to get the job done themselves. I think they have been so far. We haven't played any games yet. But I think the learning curve is something they have accepted and they know it's difficult. (Jonathan) Wilhite, Terrence Wheatley -- Brandon Meriweather has taken a more vocal role this year. He's communicating out there."

And in the end, Bruschi has really only one person to worry about at this point -- himself. While some jobs are more obviously up for grabs than others, training camp is about competition for all with an eye on overall team improvement. That, combined with an abundance of full pads practice action at the direction of Belichick, has led to solid intensity for the first six days of camp.

"It's good," Bruschi said, comparing the 2008 training camp intensity to previous years. "I think training camp intensity is always high. Especially when your head coach puts you in full pads, because I think everyone realizes out there, even myself, that still there are jobs to win. There are jobs to be captured out there. I think everyone from starter all the way to practice squad player last year has to realize that."

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