NORTON - Some veterans make up their minds before the season, declaring this will be their last go-around on the gridiron. Such a mind-set can help them power through the grind of one more training camp, maybe even appreciating it more because they know finality is right around the corner.
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi isn't one of those players.
Entering his 14th NFL season, Bruschi said yesterday this could be the final year of his career. Then again, it may not.
Bruschi, whose contract expires after the 2009 season, is leaving his options open.
“It has to be that way, not only for me but also the team,’’ Bruschi said prior to the Spaulding Hospital “Tee up with Tedy’’ golf tournament at TPC of Boston.
“I have to give them everything I have this year and only think about what’s next. I’m going to prepare myself for this season, only think about this season, and when the season is over, which is a long ways away, then you think about delving into those decisions.’’
Bruschi, who turned 36 June 9, is coming off a 2008 season in which coaches credited him with 71 tackles, fourth on the team. He started 12 games before a knee injury ended his season Dec. 7 against the Seahawks. Throughout the year, Bruschi was mostly utilized on first and second down, coming off the field on third down.
A seven-time captain, Bruschi doesn’t plan to change his leadership style following the departures of linebacker Mike Vrabel (traded to Chiefs) and safety Rodney Harrison (retired).
“I think I’ll be the same leader I’ve always been and I hope that young guys see it as we’ve lost some experienced veteran leadership, and they take it upon themselves to say ‘I need to be a leader now,’ ’’ Bruschi said.
One of those younger players is second-year linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bruschi, who believes Mayo can fill some of the leadership void, thinks highly of the 2008 first-round draft choice.
“The work ethic he’s put out this offseason, the kind of player he is, he’s going to be one of the best linebackers in the league for a long time,’’ Bruschi said.
Adam Peters left the Patriots this offseason, landing with the Broncos as a regional scout, which is the next step up from area scout, which he held the last three seasons in New England.
Earlier this offseason, college scouting coordinator Jay Muraco (Chiefs) and area scout Jim Nagy (Chiefs) left for upgraded positions. Area scout Marvin Allen left for the Falcons.
“We’re finishing up this week,’’ Bruschi said. “Guys are getting out of town here and there, trying to get some quality time with family and friends, and enjoy themselves a little bit while staying in shape also. It’s sort of difficult this time of year because it’s your last break, but you know you’re about to start training camp so you still have to train. It sort of pulls you in both directions.’’
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.