While today is the official end of Patriots training camp, it's not exactly like the last day of school for coaches and players.
Today's double session outside Gillette Stadium puts a wrap on camp (the portion open to the public, anyhow) and the Patriots know there's no vacation on the horizon.
No, business is only going to pick up. As Wes Welker quipped: "It doesn't really feel like it's really here, it's like all the fun is just now starting."
When a reporter asked coach Bill Belichick about the end of camp during his press conference following the morning session, Belichick interrupted: "Hold it, I wouldn't say it's the last day of camp."
So, how would Belichick classify it?
"The second preseason game kind of marks the unofficial transition from training camp into more of a regular-season schedule. When we play Washington (on Friday, Aug. 28), we'll treat that like a normal week during the season as we prepare for that game. This week is a bit of a transition from training camp the first two weeks to what we'll be doing next week as we head into the third preseason game."
Added Welker, who missed the exhibition opener last Thursday vs. the Eagles: "We're excited to have all that under our belt and we're excited to get out there and get the preseason going."
All that is 20 days of camp, which culminates this afternoon with practice No. 28. The team will hold a team walkthrough (closed to the media) tomorrow in advance of Thursday's second exhibition game vs. the Bengals, then settle into more of a regular-season routine.
Even if today is the end of camp, most players didn't seem aware.
"Is it over?" asked defensive lineman Ty Warren. "It's a down morning, but I don't think it's over yet. I guess it's kinda winding down now, we're starting to play games and stuff like that. I didn't participate in the bulk of the beginning of training camp so I can't stand up here and tell you that I'm happy for it to be over. I'm definitely happy to be back out here."
So where does this camp rank among the others in terms of toughness?
"It's been a tough one," said center Dan Koppen, a seventh-year veteran. "There's no doubt about it. Since I've been here, it's definitely been the toughest one. Bill (Belichick) told us early on to get ready for it and he usually doesn't lie to us. He was pretty honest.
"We've got one more hot one this afternoon. It's been a long camp. Guys have really come out and worked hard every day, really tried to not worry about anything else going on except what's out on the field. We're really happy with how everybody's worked."
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