Light ready to shoulder heavier load again
FOXBOROUGH - After reaching agreement to stay in New England for at least one more season, Matt Light said there had never been a time when he was more ready to play football.
But Light had to wait 10 days between making that statement and actually getting back on the field.
The left tackle, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason, was placed on the active physically unable to perform list when he signed. He was removed from it yesterday.
He was in uniform for the full-pads practice, though he did not take part in any drills, and said he’s easing back into things.
“Unfortunately, I can’t just jump back into it given what surgery I had in the offseason, so right now a lot of it’s mental,’’ he said. “Trying to keep the physical side of it going to what extent I can and hopefully be out there full tilt sooner than later.’’
The delay in returning to practice may have been frustrating, but Light knows it was done with an eye toward keeping him healthy for the long term.
“This process was the right way to do it,’’ he said. “I’ve had shoulder [injuries] in the past and the protocol is the same every time. You want to feel how it goes. You want to do some drills without the . . . when you’re hitting a live body, it’s a whole lot different than hitting a bag, so it’s better to break in easy than blow something up on day one.’’
Light may not be physically ready for full practice reps, but his wit is still sharp. Asked about the conversation Bill Belichick referenced earlier in the day between him and Light on Light’s role with first-round pick Nate Solder now on the roster, the wily veteran cracked wise.
“Most of it was transcendental meditation. I can’t really get into a whole lot of that, but it was pretty deep,’’ he said, keeping the joke going by saying there was a lot of humming involved and candles.
Light did get serious, though.
“Like anything else, you go through a process and that time in any guy’s career is one that you’ve got to make some serious decisions, and you’ve got to understand both sides’ expectations,’’ he said. “Bill has always been straightforward. He kind of says it like it is and doesn’t hold anything back. I know what his expectations are of me and vice versa, so we’re all good.’’
Though New England did draft Solder, presumably to be the left tackle of the future, Belichick is happy to have Light back.
“Matt has been a good player for us. He’s been here, played very well for us through the years, been a really consistent player,’’ Belichick said. “I don’t think you can have too many good players, especially at that position.’’
New role for Bodden Cornerback Leigh Bodden was one of several top-of-the-depth-chart players who didn’t start Thursday’s game against Jacksonville, but he did play on a handful of snaps. Bodden was lined up in the slot or “star’’ position.
He has been getting some work in that role in training camp, but it is a new gig for Bodden since he’s been with New England.
“I didn’t play it in ’09 [his first season with the Patriots], but I played a little bit of it in ’07 when I was in Cleveland,’’ Bodden said. “I got pretty good at it; I think the more and more I work at it that I can be pretty good in the slot. But if that’s how they feel that I can help the team or make us a better defense, then that’s what I’ll do.’’
As fellow corner Kyle Arrington noted last week, playing in the slot means facing Wes Welker types. Bodden agreed that the role has its own set of challenges.
“It’s different because usually they’re smaller, shiftier, quicker guys on the inside and they can work both ways, in and out, so it’s tough, but I have to use my advantages: my long arms, my physical ability to get my hands on them, disrupt their route, so it’s like give-and-take when you’re in the slot,’’ he said.
“But it is tough, it’s tougher than playing outside, but I’m up for anything.’’
Missing in action The Patriots had 21 players total who did not participate in yesterday afternoon’s practice; five were the players remaining on the PUP and nonfootball injury lists: Ron Brace, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Deaderick, Shaun Ellis, and Kevin Faulk. Faulk and Ellis were on the field during the session.
There were also several injured players on the field in shorts as observers: Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Ras-I Dowling, Shane Vereen, Josh Barrett, and Mike Wright.
Not spotted on the field: Albert Haynesworth, Danny Woodhead, Malcolm Williams, Brandon Spikes, Eric Kettani, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, and Christian Cox. Several Patriots players sent congratulatory messages to Woodhead via Twitter on the birth of his daughter, so that was likely the cause of his absence.
There will be camp sessions today and tomorrow, both beginning at 1:30 p.m. They are open to the public.
Roth in, Morris out The Patriots signed undrafted rookie Zach Roth, a 6-foot-6-inch, 319-pound offensive lineman out of Texas Christian. Roth was the Horned Frogs’ starting right tackle last year, playing opposite Cannon. But his first practice didn’t go too well - Roth was carted off the field midway through the session . . . The Patriots released offensive lineman Chris Morris and defensive lineman Steve Williams. Williams said after Thursday’s game that in the time he’d been out of football he lost 50 pounds (from 310 to 260). He sat out the 2008 season and played in the Canadian Football League for two seasons. Though he’d spent a few months on the Patriots’ roster in 2009, when Williams walked into Belichick’s office this month, the coach barely recognized him.