The Patriots’ pair of second-round draft picks were at Gillette Stadium this morning, touring the facility, meeting coaches – and meeting the press.
Cornerback Ras-I Dowling said he only slept for a couple of hours last night because he was just so excited.
“I can’t explain how happy I am to be here,” Dowling said, looking sharp in a grey-and-burgundy suit ensemble despite his limited sleep. “I’m just very excited…I can’t stop smiling.”
Dowling knows a bit what to expect from Bill Belichick, having played for former Belichick assistant Al Groh for three years at Virginia.
“I know that coach Groh and coach Belichick worked with each other back in the day…Being with coach Groh, I know the 3-4 defense. Pretty much I think it’s the same kind of style. I know the Patriots are a winning organization; that’s a good thing.”
He researched the Pats’ defensive roster a bit, mentioning that he’s eager to learn from Devin McCourty, Darius Butler, Kyle Arrington and the other corners.
“I’m just going to try and learn from these other guys and every day I’m going to come to work,” he said. “Every day just try to work and get better as a player.”
Shane Vereen also was working on minimal sleep – after the Patriots drafted him last night, he packed a bag and jumped on a red-eye to the East Coast, arriving at 5 a.m. He does not drink coffee but joked that he may have to start given the schedule he’s on currently.
Vereen met with running backs coach Ivan Fears, Belichick and others, and said again that he’s willing to do whatever is asked of him.
“Whatever role they ask me to play, I’ll be more than happy to do,” he said when asked about comparisons to Kevin Faulk. “I’ve always looked to myself to be a back who can do all things and hopefully that fits the mold.”
Though Vereen grew up in southern California, he was a big 49ers fan – just like the quarterback he now hopes to be getting carries from, Tom Brady.
“I’ve heard about him,” he said, smiling. “I watched the special [the “Brady 6″ documentary] that ESPN had on him not long ago. It’s kind of funny how it works out though…He’s a hard worker and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Though Vereen has spent his entire life on the West Coast, he’s looking forward to his move to colder climes.
“I’m going to get used to it,” he said of the New England snow. “I’ve never really known anywhere other than California, so I’m actually excited to finally move out of California and be in a new place.”