The Sports Xchange
--New England began the final phase of its offseason program this week with full-team OTA workouts on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Media had access to one of the week's four workouts on Thursday, witnessing 82 of the 89 players under contract work out. Some players, like Rob Gronkowski (ankle), Brandon Spikes (unknown), Nate Ebner (leg) and Matthew Slater (unknown) did not take part, but worked with trainers. Logan Mankins (knee), Sebastian Vollmer (back), Brian Waters, Anthony Gonzalez and Daniel Fells were notable names not seen on the field at all. The Patriots are practicing without jerseys on, purportedly to help build communication and camaraderie within the team, seeing teammates as faces and names rather than simply numbers. The media session was the first of three in the next few weeks leading up to the team's mandatory minicamp on June 12-14.
Another Rookie Signed
--Defensive end/outside linebacker Chandler Jones became the fifth of New England's seven draft picks to sign with the team when the Patriots officially announced the top pick's rookie deal on May 23. In the midst of full-team OTA work the only draft picks remaining unsigned were first rounder Dont'a Hightower and third rounder Jake Bequette.
--Tackles Stephon Heyer and Brandon Keith and guard/center Jamey Richard all worked out for the Patriots this week according to Scout.com. All three have started games in the NFL, Heyer having the most experience with 35 career starts in time with the Redskins and Raiders.
No Football For Brady?
--Quarterback Tom Brady didn't step on the football field until he was in high school, as his parents didn't believe that he was physically ready prior to that age. Now, given all the new information on concussions and head injuries, Brady's father wonders if he'd even let his son play at all if that decision had to be made today.
"No, not without hesitation," Tom Brady Sr. told Yahoo! Sports. "I would be very hesitant to let him play."
Brady Sr. also relayed the tale that he actually kept his son from the football field until high school in part thanks to the advice of former 49ers star lineman and current Patriots preseason game analyst Randy Cross.
"That was 27 years ago," Brady Sr. told Yahoo! Sports of Cross' advice. "We know so much more now; we know that not only is the body not physically developed to play football at five, six and seven, but we know the neck and the brain aren't, either. At that time, we thought it was kind of heroic to play at a young age. Now, with the flow of information coming at us, it's obvious the bodies of little people are not structured to absorb the hits."
The father also admits he still worries quite a bit about his son suffering a head injury in the game he loves.
"Absolutely," Brady Sr. said. "That never goes away. The answer is yes, I'm concerned. He claims that he's only been dinged once or twice, but I don't know how forthright he's being. He's not gonna tell us, as his parents, anything negative that's going on. I wouldn't be shocked that he would hide that."
He does take some solace in the fact that Brady tries to be as physically prepared as possible when he takes the field. Brady Sr. says that his son, "better prepared than most to withstand (head trauma)," because of "the way his physical therapist has prepared him. They do specific exercises on the neck and the head that could ameliorate some of the impact of the hits."
In the end, Brady Sr. thinks he probably would allow his son to play football if that decision had to be made today, but that it would not be a simple answer.
"If he were 14 now, and he really wanted to play, in all likelihood I would let him," he told Yahoo! Sports. "But it would not be an easy decision, at all."
Keeping It Light
--Matt Light didn't take long to make the transition from player to opinionated onlooker. In making the round of the ESPN network of radio and TV shows, Light offered up some interesting thoughts on his now former team.
On NFL LIVE, Light played a game dubbed "Patriots Percentages." So, what percentage does he put on Bill Belichick's chances to win another Super Bowl?
"We'll go 50-50. The one thing that you hear from a lot of guys that come in from other organizations is that 'I just wanted to come here because I just want a shot at winning.' I think they bank on the fact that because of the system and the dedication of the coaching staff, the owner and everything else, they're going to have that opportunity. So, each year 50-50."
Light also spent some time breaking down the Patriots defense. After praising the trio of Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Patrick Chung, the former left tackle said the unit needs young playmakers that could get the group off the field on third down.
Finally Light chimed in on Wes Welker's contract situation and his chances of getting a long-term deal with the Patriots before this season.
"Can we say zero on that? That's a tough one. Let's go with five percent," Light said not so optimistically.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Overall, I think they really need a left tackle." -- Now retired Patriots Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light joking about his former team's needs.
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