Before the Patriots hit the practice field today, head coach Bill Belichick held another press conference with the media.
The highlight of his presser was the praise he doled out to linebacker Jerod Mayo, but he also touched on Kenbrell Thompkins, the NFL trying to make a ‘point of emphasis’, and confirming tomorrow’s full pads practice.
“I think he’s as well respected as any player in the locker room and I’d say one of the best overall team leaders, players and kind of a glue chemistry guy that I’ve been around.”
“I think he means a lot to our team. I’d say he’s really the guy that the team probably revolves around more than any other player. Not that there aren’t other players that are instrumental in that, but I think he touches pretty much everybody, not just the defensive players but all the guys — not just the older guys, but the younger guys. Even when he was captain in his second year, he had a relationship with the older guys. Now he’s more of a veteran player, but still pretty attached to the younger guys, like Jamie Collins and [Dont'a] Hightower and guys like that.
“He has a great work ethic, a great presence on the football field, and a great personality that in a very good way is professional but also has a good rapport with all the players and coaches.”
Comparing Mayo to Teddy Bruschi, versus Mike Vrabel:
“I’d say more Bruschi, but different. Similar, but different. Tedy had a little bit of a different personality, but a lot of the same characteristics. When you’re playing a position in the middle of the defense, it’s like playing quarterback in the middle of the offense, you have to be the main communicator and the person that everyone runs through. That’s inherent in the position, so some of that comes with the position.”
Praise for Thompkins:
“One of our hardest workers,” Belichick relayed. “He really tries hard to do everything right. He’s very attentive. He’s very coachable.”
On the NFL emphasizing illegal contact, and defensive holding:
“The league does this every year — it doesn’t change a rule it just says ‘we’re going to emphasize it differently,’ well I don’t really know what that means because we’ve tried to play by the rules from the beginning. So I think you definitely have to get to the preseason or in some cases the regular season to see how that’s going to be. … The ones that are cut and dried, we’ll accept them for what they are. The ones that would change the shade of gray from light to dark, or dark to light, I think there’s a little of seeing what that is. That being said, that’s kind of the way it is the National Football League anyway.”
Reporters at camp have been raving about Thompkins’ performance, and even though they have yet to put pads on, I have to say that I am beginning to buy into the hype. I expect Aaron Dobson to make a big impact on the field once he returns from his foot injury, but until then, Thompkins looks like he owns that third receiver spot. Earning praise from Belichick is not easy, so for him to say that Thompkins is one of the hardest workers on the team really speaks volumes to how hard this kid works. He may not have the best athletic skills, but hard work can get you a long way in this league, which may be where he is headed.
The same can be said for Mayo, although I think it is a given that he will be here for a long time, while playing at a high level. Mayo’s injury last year may have hurt New England the most, although it flew under the radar. He is the leader of this defense, and a damn fine linebacker as well. I look forward to seeing him on the field in 2014.