There’s a quote I keep seeing on Pinterest about soul mates. Apparently, someone’s got a theory that when you meet your soul mate, instead of a pounding heart, shaking hands, and weak knees, you feel complete calm. No anxiety, no agitation, just calm.
If that’s true, then Patriots training camp is our soul mate. This was our seventh year making an appearance at camp and as soon as we entered through the gates, we both felt a sense of amazing calm come over us. When we’re back on the practice fields in Foxborough, it’s as though all is right in the world.
If you’re unfamiliar with training camp and how it works, it is a series of practices held by each team prior to the regular season. The majority of training camp practices are open to the public and are generally free to attend. It’s the best way to be up close to the football action if you can’t afford tickets to a game.
If you need more reasons to go to your nearest training camp, check out our post on the Top 10 Reasons to Go to Training Camp.
We’re planning on attending a few more days of camp this year, but Val got some excellent shots on day one and we couldn’t wait to share them with you!
We’ve taken 543 pictures so far this year at training camp. Bless the person who invented large memory cards. Of course, we’re only posting the best shots here on The Snap, just for you. You’re welcome.
You can only imagine what a hardship it was for us to sort through these pictures of our favorite team…
The crowd this year was unlike any other that we’ve been a part of the last few years. Considering current events (starts with “deflate” and ends with “gate”), it was awesome to see such a vocal crowd. Support for Tom Brady was unquestionable – he got loud cheers coming onto the field and throughout the two and a half hour session.
Coach Bill Belichick is always really easy to spot on the field. He’s usually rocking a visor, some shorts, and the navy top you see below, or a hoodie with the sleeves cut off. Considering how warm it was (in the 80s, but it felt like hotter when we were sitting in the direct sun on the bleachers), we understand why the hoodie was a no-go.
Last year’s camp was all about the battle of the long snapper. This year, the core special teams members weren’t facing much competition, as Belichick used a fifth round draft pick for LS Joe Cardona, and P Ryan Allen and K Stephen Gostkowski just signed three and four year deals, respectively, with the team.
How about this great photo of tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, a.k.a. Hoo-Man? The tall guy next to him, number 88, is Scott Chandler, who was a free agent this year. He used to be a pain for the Patriots to cover each year when he played in Buffalo. As Pats fans, we’re pretty psyched to see him line up with Gronk. We did notice QB Jimmy Garoppolo taking some time to work separately with the two towering tight ends and it gave us all sorts of warm fuzzy football feelings.
We found it pretty entertaining when the entire offense had to run a penalty lap. We didn’t realize it at the time, but according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the defense apparently returned the ball during an 11-0n-11 drill and Belichick was not happy.
The pictures you get really depend on your proximity to certain position groups. The Patriots have two practice fields, so the players and coaches are spread over a relatively wide area and there numerous drills going on at any given time.
We love the fact that the Patriots hand you a roster as you enter camp. With 90 players on the team at the start of training camp, it’s helpful to have a cheat sheet, especially considering the number of rookies.
The only bad thing about the roster is that it also contains all of the players’ ages, and considering that we are now both older than many of these guys, it doesn’t do much for our egos. Yes, we may still get carded, but when we start to admire the players’ athletic assets (not going to lie, it happens), you wonder if you’ve entered cougar territory.
One of our favorite parts of camp every year is when the team runs two-minute drills. This gives the offense a chance to practice making their way down the field with plays that they would use once the two-minute warning has been given in a game. Overall, we did notice the quicker pace with which the team was doing just about everything. The Patriots are known for their fast-paced offense, but it’s interesting to see how that is incorporated so early on in the season.
At the end of practice, after the big team huddle, the team breaks out into position groups to debrief and stretch.
Each day at training camp, a different group of players signs autographs. On the day we went, the quarterbacks (Brady, Garoppolo, and Flynn) and some of the running backs made the rounds. The players were given about 15 minutes and a Sharpie marker to make the dreams of kids and grown man-children come true.
We don’t usually go for autographs on these days. Unless you have a baby that you can offer up Simba/Rafiki style to get signed, it’s difficult to get a signature without people getting unnecessarily aggressive. We just stand back and take pictures, like the ones of Brady and Flynn below.
The shot below of Jimmy Garoppolo gives you some perspective on the amount of people waiting for autographs. There’s a lot of them.
At the end of practice, the families of players and coaches join them on the field. Training camp involves long days for the players and the coaching staff, so it’s nice to see them get a few minutes with their families. We love these shots we got of Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels and his family.
This year was also great because we were sitting next to some really friendly people. It’s nice to be surrounded by people who share your affinity for football and don’t mind swapping stories.
Did you go to training camp this year? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the comments below.
– Michelle and Val