NFL: Patriots Camp—Why So Physical?

Mike DussaultSenior Analyst IAugust 2, 2008

If the Patriots thought they were going to breeze through their 2008 creampuff schedule on their way back to the Super Bowl, they quickly discovered upon their arrival at training camp that they were sorely mistaken. Literally.

No, instead of 2008 AFC East Champs hats and an AFC Championship Game placeholder, all they’ve gotten are beatings from each other on a daily, and sometimes twice-daily, basis.

Eleven of the first 14 practices for the 2008 Pats have been in full pads, with heavy contact.

There have been lots of 11-on-11 goal-line work, including Saturday, when rookie linebacker Jerod Mayo stuffed Laurence Maroney on the 1-yard line and got the win for the defense.

Patriots Fan Weekly reporter Paul Perillo called it the play of camp thus far, and that makes me warm and happy inside.

But why so physical?

It’s possible Bill Belichick might be worried his team could be overconfident heading into a schedule that sees them playing teams with a 2007 winning percentage of just .387, and only 99 total wins between the lot of them.

It’s hard to get excited about the 49ers and Rams.

It’s also possible that, with their entire record-setting offense returning, Tom Brady and Co. might think about holding back a bit. Save something for the finish. Something they didn’t have last year in the final minutes of the Super Bowl.

Belichick is reminding them that you cannot hold back in the NFL, and every single team they face is going to come at them with everything it's got.

What do Brodie Croyle and the Kansas City Chiefs have to lose if the Pats trounce them in the opener? Nothing.

Always fear a team with nothing to lose (see New York Giants).

At a time when other teams are easing up a bit due to the 80-man roster limit, the Patriots have taken it to another level.

The only problem is that, by practicing like this, injuries become a major factor.

Wes Welker and Ellis Hobbs came off the PUP list Saturday, but starting Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light has been MIA for nearly a week.

The right side of the line was already shaky; the team needs the left side to remain intact.

They’ve treated their veterans gently, giving multiple days off to Brady, Tedy Bruschi, and Richard Seymour. Rodney Harrison missed the first few days on the PUP.

Meanwhile, everyone else is butting heads. Constantly.

Should the Patriots make it out of the training camp and the preseason without a significant loss, they will hit the ground running.

They will be ready for every team’s “A” game. Even if it is the Cardinals.

Mike Dussault may be reached at