Work in Sports
New England's just not hot enoughLatest: Wednesday August 02, 2000 12:16 PM
This is the third in a series of postcards Sports Illustrated's Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training-camp tour.
Wednesday, July 19
TEAM: New England Patriots
SITE: Fields behind new construction at Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, Mass. This is an orphan of a training camp, forced here for the first week of full contact because the dorms at Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., the camp site, aren't available until the weekend.
After the 100-plus degree oven of north Texas on Tuesday at the Cowboys camp, the 71° cloudy day was welcomed by the players and by me -- but not by coach Bill Belichick. "Just not training-camp weather," he grumbled after the morning workout. PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: Backup quarterback Michael Bishop has a laser for an arm, and you should have seen the 52-yard SCUD he hummed to veteran wideout Aaron Bailey -- the ex-Colt trying to make this roster -- midway through the morning practice. In a throwing contest with Brett Favre, Bishop would be neck-and-neck with the Packers quarterback.
THE FOOD: Average camp fare. The menu, with grades:
Ziti with marinara ... C+ Tossed salad with champagne vinaigrette ... B Three small meatballs ... B+ McIntosh apple ... F
Very nice meatballs, tasty with a garlic/parsley appeal, which helped to overcome the run-of-the-mill pasta. Nice salad, though overdressed. A disappointing, very soft apple. Inedible, in fact. (I just read that back. What a spoiled baby I am.)
OPINION/FACTOID THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING ONLY TO ME: There is a Patriots player named Shockmain Davis. He is a free-agent receiver from Angelo State. All I could think of while I perused the New England roster Wednesday morning was this: There is a mother who sat in a delivery room 22 years ago holding a bundle of joy in her arms and looked down at this baby and said: "I dub thee Shockmain."
Dear NFL Junkie:
This is one team I simply haven't been able to get a feel for this offseason. Wednesday didn't change that because it seems half the players who will count come September were not practicing. The offensive line is hurt. The player they hope will carry the mail -- third-round pick J.R. Redmond -- is hurt, not to mention a contract holdout. (Bad move, J.R. This job is yours for the taking. You think they want Kevin Faulk to be the every-down back?) Terry Glenn is his mopey self. The defense is ahead of the offense right now.
It's a time of great transition here, and I don't just mean the massive setup going on inside Foxboro Stadium for the *N Sync concerts this weekend. The new stadium is rising like a weed, the construction noise often drowning out the shrill yellings of coaches like offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and special-teamer Brad Seely. (The Patriots will be in the new place in the 2002 season.) The players are still learning the Belichick way; three of them were out at 6:30 Wednesday morning, passing a brutal running drill because they flunked it before camp began.
Six practices is just not enough time to make a judgment on what kind of team this is. "Can I take a raincheck on that one?" Belichick said. "It's too early to tell."
One piece of good news for the Pats and for this postcard: On the last play of the morning practice, former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady faded back and gunned 45-yard fly pass to Shockmain, who made a nice diving catch.
Anybody out there want in on the Shockmain Fan Club? P.K.
Check back soon for more postcards from camp. Next: Washington.