Crunch time at camp
It's a big week to make big impact
FOXBOROUGH — With their final three exhibition games played over a 10-day span and multiple roster cuts looming, this week’s practices could be the final chance for some Patriots to make an impression.
“This is a big week,” coach Bill Belichick said after Sunday’s shells and shorts practice. “Time’s running out for whatever moves anybody’s going to make, they’ve got to make them.”
Try to keep up with this dizzying schedule: New England hosts Philadelphia Aug. 20, then flies to Tampa Bay a day later for two joint practices with the Buccaneers and a game Friday. After that, the Patriots have two days to decide on their 75-man roster before heading to New York for the exhibition finale against the Giants Aug. 29. The 53-man roster cuts follow Aug. 31.
“This is kind of the last real week of training camp, where you can really get some work in together on the practice field and get ready for some of these preseason games and ultimately get ready for the regular season,” wide receiver Wes Welker said. “So it’s very important that we come out here and have some good practices and get ready to have a good year.”
Belichick said the Patriots are taking advantage of the extended week of practice with more installations and covering situations that arose in their 7-6 win Thursday night against the Saints.
“I think we’ve been over the corrections quite a bit,” Welker said. “But we worked on some situations today, and kind of went over them and made sure we’re on the same page.
“It also seemed like a big conditioning day, because I’m pretty tired.”
The Patriots brought in free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress for a workout Sunday, league sources confirmed to the Globe.
Belichick played down the significance, calling such occurrences routine.
“No, we work out a lot of players,” Belichick said. “We just try to know who’s available out there, we work and talk with a lot of guys, give physicals and all that, so I’m not going to comment on any of them individually.”
Burress, who turned 35 Sunday, spent the 2011 season with the Jets, recording 45 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns after a two-year hiatus. He shot himself in the leg at a nightclub in November 2008 and subsequently spent 22 months in prison on weapons charges.
Despite Belichick’s insistence on the workout as due diligence, working out Burress could have occurred as a favor to agent Drew Rosenhaus to promote interest in the receiver.
Belichick and Rosenhaus have a long history of working together; eight current Patriots have Rosenhaus as their agent, including tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Brandon Spikes, who returned to practice Sunday after a week off with an undisclosed injury.
The Patriots also plan to bring in former Packers tackle Chad Clifton for a workout this week in the hopes of strengthening an offensive line that’s experienced its share of offseason injuries. Clifton has battled a back issue in recent seasons, and was released from Green Bay in April after failing a physical.
Rookie defensive end Jake Bequette turned some heads Sunday when he spoke about his first NFL training camp.
“It’s been competitive, it’s been very intense,” said the third-round pick out of Arkansas. “But it’s also been a lot of fun.”
This prompted the follow-up: You’re really having fun?
“I must be sick, right?” Bequette said. “Or a rookie. I’m just a dumb rookie.”
Bequette has spent training camp in the defensive end rotation, playing on both sides.
“Jake has done some good things,” Belichick said. “Long way to go like all the rookies, but he’s done some good things. And some of the responsibilities that we have are a little bit different than what he had in college, but he’s a smart guy and he works hard. He’s tried to adapt to those. He’s getting better.”
While the Patriots worked out on their practice field, the Revolution were facing the Montreal Impact inside Gillette Stadium. Montreal midfielder Justin Mapp is a childhood friend of Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, going back to their days growing up in Mississippi.
They played together on state soccer teams, when Gostkowski would surprise opposing keepers by launching shots on goal from midfield after the opening kickoff.