Foxborough Mass —
DE Derek Rivers is excited to be healthy after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Rivers, a man of faith, does not complain. His mother taught him to believe everything happens for a reason, which was a good philosophy to have after not getting to play his rookie year. Rivers loves the chemistry he has developed with fellow defensive players - a room with great characters that loves the animation show Dragon Ball Z.
“We have a great room,” Rivers said. “I am blessed to be a part of it.”
Rivers main focus in the offseason was improving his strength. He spent a lot of time with strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera. Rivers also worked on his technique extensively.
The challenge returning from an ACL injury is as much physical as it is mental. Tom Brady once said that it can be tough to not be overly worried about getting hit. A player has to accept that he will be hit in the knee — a thought that can be tough to accept.
“I put my faith in God so I don’t worry about getting hit again. But confidence is definitely a factor - you need that confidence back in your leg for you to be completely healthy,” Rivers said.
Like many players, Rivers spent little time on Sunday watching NFL games. His father played basketball for Virginia Tech so he rooted for his father’s college team. Rivers, 24, played at Youngstown State. He is excited to play the Carolina Panthers Friday night because he grew up in Kinston, N.C. — on the other side of North Carolina.
Some of his family will be in attendance. Kinston is about a four hour drive from Charlotte.
While training camp can be a grind, Rivers and the defense have had some fun moments. On Tuesday, the players slid across the practice field after losing a drill to the offense. Rivers was a two way player in high school where he played tight end and defensive end. Thus, he enjoys when the offense and defense switch sides in practice.
“It’s always a good time - you get to talk trash,” Rivers said.
His favorite offensive position is receiver.
While Rivers has the speed to be a strong pass rusher, he is willing to play two-gap if it helps the team. When the Pats two-gap the defensive lineman must read and react to what the offensive lineman do. Richard Seymour once compared it to watching paint dry.
“I do what the coaches ask me to do,” Rivers said.
A classic Belichick answer.
Kenny Britt no longer a Patriot
Britt, 29, was released Wednesday despite being at practice earlier in the day. Despite all the hoopla around Gillette about the move it was a question of when not if. Britt had only two catches for the Pats last year. He had a hamstring injury and spent most of training camp rehabbing on the lower field. Britt turned 30 in September, which is old for a receiver or running back and he likely no longer had the ability to play receiver in the NFL. Britt handled the situation with class - always with a smile on his face, never complaining and an optimistic view that he could contribute this year. Yesterday, Britt and his son, roughly 5, walked though the locker room. His son can be proud of his Dad.
The Pats have released Jordan Matthews, Malcom Mitchell, and Britt since camp began. Eric Decker might be next. With Julian Edelman missing the first four games because of a suspension, the wide receiving core has not looked this bad since 2006. Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett might be the only other locks to make the team.
Dorsett, who had only 12 catches last year, must earn the trust of Tom Brady and show that he can get open consistently. Patterson must show that he can make the transition from kick returner to receiver and Hogan must stay healthy given his injury history. The Pats might have only three receivers active for the first four games.
Tom Brady’s new helmet
Tom Brady has a new helmet. Why thIs is relevant - not sure. Brady resisted because he liked his old helmet. Maybe the new helmet will keep him safer. The offensive line likely will have more to do with whether Brady stays upright then any new helmet. Brady, 41, liked hearing comments that the helmet made him look younger. Brady reminded a reporter that his wife the famous supermodel, Gisele Bundchen, speaks five languages. Brady's response "I speak two languages english and football." Brady added his wife does not understand football so they must communicate in english.
Uninteresting Practice Report
RB Sony Michel, OL Marcus Cannon, LB Harvey Langi, TE Ryan Izzo and Isaiah Wynn (out for the season) were not at practice Wednesday.