Training-camp postcard: Patriots
Posted: Friday July 27, 2007 4:03PM; Updated: Monday July 30, 2007 10:21PM
At Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., which is the logical launch point for my training camp travels, given that I live fewer than 30 miles away in Brookline. The Patriots have their practice facilities adjacent to Gillette, and they won't be working out on their home stadium's field any time this weekend. That's because country star Kenny Chesney is headlining a Saturday concert at Gillette, which is set to begin right in the middle of New England's 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. practice. Wonder if Randy Moss is crushed he can't attend?
1. Nobody expected to see franchise-tagged cornerback Asante Samuel show up for the first day of Pats camp, and he didn't disappoint, skipping at least the early-morning portion of the festivities in order to register his displeasure with his contract situation.
But don't fret, Pat-lovers, because the tea leaves seem to portend Samuel being on hand before too long. The Lance Briggs deal in Chicago the other day again underlined the notion that the club holds almost all the cards in these franchise-player holdouts, which I imagine is beginning to dawn on Samuel. The Bears and Briggs' camp got creative to get a one-year deal struck, and maybe something similar will occur in Samuel's case (although I don't expect the hard-line Patriots, under any condition, to promise they won't franchise him again in 2008. That's just not the Patriot Way).
We're probably in the face-saving stage of the stand-off, and you can tell that by the noticeably softer tone coming from Samuel's agents in recent days. Samuel needlessly took a hard-line stance early on in negotiations, threatening to hold out for the season's first 10 weeks unless he received a new long-term deal. That's not going to happen, because Samuel isn't going to walk away from any of the regular-season game checks that come with his $7.79 million franchise tender.
Now it's probably just a matter of Samuel staying away from camp long enough so that it doesn't look like he quickly caved in to the Patriots after talking so tough all offseason. Just after New England plays its second preseason game is a reasonable date to expect him.
2. In case you're scoring at home, Randy Moss has finally settled on a jersey number. Moss wore No. 6 during the team's June mini-camp, and there were persistent rumors that he might be in negotiations with New England tight end Benjamin Watson for No. 84 -- the digits Moss made famous when he exploded onto the NFL scene in Minnesota. But alas, when he took the field Friday morning, he was wearing a white No. 81 jersey, which is his former Raiders number transposed (No. 18).
Moss doesn't exactly have big shoulder pads to fill wearing No. 81 in New England. The number previously belonged to third-year receiver Jonathan Smith, who was released recently and has spent the past year yo-yoing between the Patriots and Bills. Moss said in June that he was beginning to like the look of a single digit jersey. No jersey number was listed for him on the first page of his bio in New England's just-released 2007 media guide.