FOXBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - Thousands of fans at Gillette Stadium stood and cheered loudly on Thursday when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady jogged out onto the practice field in Foxborough for the team’s first training camp session.
The team kicked off their Super Bowl championship defense with a practice at 9:15 a.m. that was open to the public.
Brady will be 42 years old next week and is still looking to capture a seventh ring this season without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired this past offseason.
“It just feels great to be back out here on the practice field and just actually playing real football,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said.
Julian Edelman will reportedly miss at least three weeks of camp with a thumb injury.
“Jules is our leader and we know that, and we told him that we are going to have to step up for him,” Dorsett said. “He talked to me, he told me to lead the group while he was gone, and that’s what imma try to do.”
David Andrews and Michael Bennett were also not spotted during training.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower said, “It’s cool just because you’re getting back to football and OTA’s and stuff, all the training, offseason, that’s what you fo it for, but, I’d be lying if I say I enjoy it.”
Many players are ready to embrace the run for Super Bowl LIV, with both excitement and anxiety with what camp brings.
“Imma sleep well tonight, you don’t sleep well the first night because you still got a little bit of camp jitters even though I’m 38-years-old, why do I have camp jitters, but driving over you know you’re in for a long haul,” tight end Benjamin Watson said. “Coach Belichick talked about it today, training camp is not punishment, it’s preparation.”
Brady, who’s now in his 20th season with the Patriots, has already earned the most Super Bowl rings in NFL history.
“Just being around him, it definitely makes everybody just appreciate being out here,” tight end Benjamin Watson said
Watson says Brady steps on the field every day like it’s his first day on the job as a rookie.
“Any time he’s out here, he’s having fun, you know, he’s like a 10-year-old kid playing football,” cornerback Stephon Gilmore said. “He’s having fun, very competitive.”
Gilmore is part of the defense that may need to carry the load this season as the Patriots adjust offensively without Gronkowski, and incorporating several new receivers.
“It doesn’t matter whether you had success last year, we each come in this year with something to prove,” cornerback Jason McCourty said. “You’re either battling for a position, you’re maybe getting older, you’re trying to prove that you can still do it, there’s always something motivating you.”
The Patriots will try to replicate last year’s Super Bowl run by pretending it never even happened.
“We don’t get to carry anything over from last year so, when we showed up day one from offseason training, we knew we had to start from the ground up and build ourselves back up and try to improve every single day,” fullback James Develin said. “And that’s what we’re out here doing.”
If the Patriots ever need more motivation, all they have to do is look at the stands.
“They always pack the house, they always support you know,” Gilmore said. “Any time we see these fans out here supporting you know, it makes us want to work that much harder and make plays for them.”
The Patriots will hold a Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday.
The team’s official training camp schedule moving forward is as follows:
- July 26: 8 AM Gates Open; Practice begins at 9:15 AM* (approx.)
- July 27: 8 AM Gates Open; Practice begins at 9:15 AM* (approx.)
- July 28: Practice (Time TBA)
- July 29: Patriots Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 4:30 PM; Closed Practice for Season Ticket Members and Foxborough Residents 7:00 PM* (approx.)
- July 30: No Practice
- July 31: Practice (Time TBA)
- August 1: Practice (Time TBA)
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