Receiver has catch phrase
Holt’s big goal: ‘Lead by example’
FOXBOROUGH — When the Rams made Torry Holt a first-round draft pick in 1999, the young receiver’s goal was to play in the NFL for a decade.
Yesterday on the turf inside Gillette Stadium, Holt chuckled as he spoke about preparing for his 12th season as a professional, and how he can help the young receivers on his new team, the Patriots.
“I think the best way I can help and teach those guys, first and foremost, is being here, being diligent, being precise, being efficient, being on time as much as I possibly can, participating in the drills, participating in the workouts, running routes at the proper depth, being efficient off the line of scrimmage — the detailed things,’’ Holt said. “Most importantly, just leading by example. These guys are young, eager guys who want to learn. They want to be good at their particular craft. I know they’re going to be watching me day in and day out.’’
Holt said the secret to a long career in the NFL is consistency. That’s something he knows quite a bit about: for the last decade, Holt was the league’s leading receiver, recording 868 catches, with eight seasons with 1,100 receiving yards or more.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Holt joins a wideout group on the Patriots that includes first- and second-year players Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, and Taylor Price. Holt has no qualms about teaching them, just as he learned from a host of players and coaches with the Rams.
“I had Isaac Bruce show me that, Ricky Proehl showed me that, Marshall Faulk showed me that, Ernie Conwell showed me that, coach [Mike] Martz, the list goes on and on. I was fortunate enough when I came into the National Football League 12 years ago, I had good guys in front of me that worked, that paid attention to the details. Our best players on our team were the hardest workers, so for someone like myself, coming in young, there was no room for me to slack, no room for me to be a prima donna — I had to come in and try to mimic that because that was the standard.’’
As diva receivers such as Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, and DeSean Jackson seemingly have become the norm in the NFL, Holt would appear to be the opposite. During a nearly 20-minute interview, he spoke about his passion for the game, his admiration for the Patriots’ organization, the professionalism the team shows when it takes the field, and he looked each reporter in the eye.
He even showed off his badly bent middle finger on his left hand.
Over years of dislocating it, Holt’s digit bends about 45 degrees; he pops it back into place, sometimes when he’s running routes during games.
As he held up his hand for cameras, Holt lamented that he probably can’t take guitar lessons, but “it’s a symbol of my work.’’
Welker, who tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the regular-season finale in Houston, underwent surgery Feb. 3 and said he is already jogging. He also plays catch with Tom Brady in the Los Angeles area, Brady said in an interview published Monday.
“Obviously, this isn’t something you can really just fight through,’’ Welker said. “You’ve got to go in stages. You’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything possible to heal the right way and make sure you’re ready to go. It’s so early right now, it’s hard to put any sort of timetable on it. My main deal is just working hard and putting myself in the best position possible to be ready whenever I’m ready. No telling when that’s going to be or how long it’s going to take, but all I can do is just work hard. Every day is looking a little brighter.’’
Welker will hold his second annual football camp at Thayer Academy in Braintree for boys and girls ages 7-14 May 22-23. Proceeds go toward Welker’s eponymous foundation.
Enshrinement ceremonies are July 16-17 in South Bend, Ind.