Being forced to manage clock
No time to lose with new players
FOXBOROUGH — Taking full advantage of the small window of opportunity they had, the Patriots’ second- and third-round draft picks were at Gillette Stadium yesterday to tour the facility and meet their new coaches.
Under the rules in place for the NFL draft, teams had access to the players they selected until the draft ended. After that, no contact with picks is allowed until the lockout is lifted.
So just like that, the Patriots are cut off from all of their players.
But while they were in town, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, and quarterback Ryan Mallett breezed through Gillette, meeting with the team staff and media.
First-round pick Nate Solder, who arrived Friday morning, was also in the building.
“I met with [Ivan] Fears, the running back coach, numerous coaches. I met with coach [Bill] Belichick,’’ Vereen said. “Because of the situation the NFL is in, we weren’t able to talk football at all. Just getting to know each other.’’
Mallett, who has a big job in learning how to run the Patriots’ offense, comes from a pro-style offense at Arkansas.
“I haven’t really been able to talk ball except for the short visit I had earlier this month. The Arkansas offense is pro style. We’re under center, we’re in the shotgun, we’re making protection calls, we’re audibling,’’ Mallett said. “We’re doing all that. Terminology is obviously going to be different from team to team, so that’s going to be the biggest obstacle, as well as learning the new plays, the new defenses of the NFL.’’
Mallett said he was disappointed that he fell to pick No. 74 in the draft, and noted that there were six quarterbacks taken ahead of him. In 2000, six quarterbacks were taken ahead of his new teammate, Tom Brady.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Vereen said he will try to link up with one or two of his new teammates to start working out and get to know each other.
Here to stay Brady has said he has no intention of retiring in the near future, and the franchise quarterback reiterated that Friday night.
Kurt Warner, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback who now works at NFL Network, said he sent Brady a text message after the Patriots drafted Mallett in the third round.
“He wanted me to know for sure that he was planning on playing 10 more years,’’ Warner said during a predraft show yesterday.
Brady turns 34 in early August, so another decade under center would be impressive. He signed a four-year contract extension last September that runs through 2014.
Bidding farewell Belichick was dressed much more casually yesterday, wearing jeans and flip-flops paired with a button-down shirt to chat with media after New England made its final pick.
As he wrapped up, Belichick gave reporters a reminder of how fluid things are in the NFL right now: “Don’t know when I’ll see you again, but see you later.’’
And with that, he left the podium and headed for the elevator. Due to the lockout, it could be weeks or months before Belichick holds another news conference.
Ceremony on site One couple unwittingly had some extra guests at its marriage ceremony yesterday. Reporters in the Gillette Stadium press box noticed a wedding party having its photos taken in the stands in the south end zone. A short time later, a few dozen people had lined both sides of an “aisle’’ of stairs outside the west clubhouse, with an officiant at the end of the stairs. The couple said their vows, then the went back into the clubhouse for their reception.