So when offensive tackle Nate Solder and linebacker Brandon Spikes started a scuffle that turned into a bench clearing brawl at last night’s season ticket holder-only practice, it’s pretty big news.
Fights are bound to happen over the course of a training camp on any team, and this isn’t the first or last the Pats will see this year. When you have 90 competitive, stubborn athletes in confined quarters for nearly three weeks, that’s a recipe for drama if ever there was one. But the Pats are usually immune to anything larger than a shoving match. Such was not the case Wednesday. According to several reports out of the practice, every single player got in on the action, some as peacemakers, and some as participants. Luckily, all parties escaped unscathed. However, Spikes did leave the practice field for a minute afterwards and there was a ripple of concern that he could have been injured. Thankfully, he wasn’t.
While some have blown the incident hugely out of proportion, suggesting the team is undisciplined or not getting along, it’s not all bad. If there’s one thing the Pats have lacked in recent years, it’s passion. The fire that was there through the Super Bowl years has been widely replaced with an eerie, constant calm. No one is advocating fights amongst players is a definitively good thing and should be a regular occurrence, but it’s nice to think this team might be a little different than its predecessors, that they might play with a little more energy and pop.
Brady Disappoints; Ridley Shines
Cue the Chicken Littles.
Tom Brady didn’t have a great day at the office yesterday, performing poorly, along with the rest of the first-team offense, in a two-minute drill. The competitor in Brady is never satisfied, so naturally the QB was pissed off when he couldn’t connect with Wes Welker on third down and his general rhythm seemed off, but such is the ebb and flow of training camp. Some days you’ve got it, some days you don’t.
Stevan Ridley, meanwhile, continues to gun for that number one running back spot. One of the things I mentioned often about Ridley last year was how I admired his decision-making ability. For better or worse, Ridley picks a spot and goes with it. Remember the years of Laurence Maroney dancing around in the backfield, unable to decide where to go? Ridley is no Maroney. He chooses a path and gets everything he can from it. It’s that combination of physical and mental toughness that will reignite the Pats running game after the departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
Gronkowski is Back, Baby!
After a rocky start to camp, it appears Rob Gronkowski’s got his groove back. His goal-line maneuvers are back to par and he’s beating double coverage again with ease. Collective sigh of relief.
McCourty Showing Flashes
We all remember (somewhat wistfully) the player McCourty was in his first season as a Patriot. And then we remember the player he was in his second. Thankfully, as training camp has progressed, so too has McCourty. He’s showing more physicality at the line of scrimmage and isn’t making the same mental mistakes that killed him last season. Granted, it’s training camp and harder to make those types of errors, but his working against bigger receivers and holding his own is a great sign for the third year man. McCourty will need all the reps he can get if he wants to hold down the number one cornerback position this year.