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A lockout workout for Patriots

At BC facility, Brady & Co. stage a do-it-yourself job

By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / June 2, 2011

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Boston College football players had their spring conditioning workout at Alumni Stadium delayed a bit yesterday.

But when Tom Brady wants to use your field, it’s probably tough to say no.

Brady and just over 40 of his Patriots teammates gathered on the turf for a player-run workout that lasted two hours. It is believed to be the first large-scale organized workout for New England players during the NFL lockout.

The reigning league MVP still carries a good deal of clout with his teammates, judging by the number of them who were on hand. Several players have remained in the Foxborough area this offseason — and about a dozen of them have been working out together, a group led by Jerod Mayo — but some, such as Julian Edelman and Darius Butler, flew in from out of town to take part yesterday.

And it wasn’t just veterans; at least five rookies — first-round pick Nate Solder, second-round picks Ras-I Dowling and Shane Vereen, and third-rounders Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett — were spotted.

During the lockout, players who engage in workouts are taking a risk; if they get injured, the team is not responsible for their medical care. But for rookies, the risk is even greater because they have yet to sign contracts.

A few players who are recovering from injuries participated yesterday, including: Ty Warren, who missed all of last season after having hip surgery; Mike Wright, who missed a significant chunk of the season dealing with the effects of a concussion; and Aaron Hernandez, who had hip surgery after the season.

Brady, too, underwent foot surgery just days after New England’s playoff exit.

The players were in shorts and T-shirts, and did a number of drills that would be familiar to those who have attended a training camp practice. Early on, receivers (with safety Patrick Chung among them) ran some short routes and caught passes, while others warmed up. Then everyone did wind sprints and stretched in small groups.

Defensive backs worked on backpedaling and catching, and there was a brief period of 11-on-11, with Brady handing off to a running back (there were five on hand, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Thomas Clayton, Ridley, and Vereen) or throwing a short screen. During that time, the linemen simply stood up and put their hands in each others’ chests.

The offense and defense then split into separate groups; with the defense, Devin McCourty stood with fellow cornerback Dowling for a couple of minutes, and appeared to be giving him some instruction.

Although the value of such a workout is unclear — there were no coaches, no film study, no pads — there at least seemed to be a lot of camaraderie. Players exchanged handshakes and hugs early, and some laughs as well. Brady could be heard several times giving instruction.

The timing of the session makes sense. After spending much of the offseason on the West Coast, Brady is back in Boston for this weekend’s Best Buddies Challenge, a charity event for which he serves as honorary chair and has been involved with for several years.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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