By Ian R. Rapoport
Monday, May 3, 2010
FOXBORO - They arrived at Gillette Stadium from around the country, by airplane or by car. Twenty-six rookies and undrafted free agents, most with the same goal in mind:
Show enough to make the Patriots.
The team conducted its two-day rookie minicamp this weekend, putting the players through a series of one-hour workouts with much of the focus on fundamentals and basics.
For those who are slated to stick around for the 2010 season, they saw but a snapshot of New England. Predictably, it came while on the plane or driving to the stadium.
“I saw the Boston Harbor and everything,” punter Zoltan Mesko said. “Pretty cool town.”
Yet one player is slightly more familiar with the surroundings than the rest of them. And he's earned the chance to stick around for a while.
Former Brown receiver Buddy Farnham, an Andover High graduate, was the lone tryout player (of five) to sign with the team. To those close with the 6-foot, 195-pound second-team Associated Press All-American and Boston Gridiron Club Bulger Lowe Award winner, it's not surprising.
“But that's just because I know how hard Buddy will work,” said longtime Brown coach Phil Estes. “Some people are going to say, 'Where did this guy come from?' But he'll work, he'll impress you. He just dominated our league this year with runs after the catch, yards, total offense. He's just the most intense player I've been around. You can't keep him off the field.”
The Pats decided to not to keep him off it, as he impressed throughout the workouts. The most memorable play was when he juked linebacker Brandon Spikes in a would-be tackling drill (without the contact).
Farnham had 1,003 receiving yards in 2009, with a per-game average that was fourth nationally in FCS. His 7.4 catches per game was eighth in the country.
After tearing up the record books at Andover in football and starring in lacrosse, Farnham did the same at Brown. He shattered several records set by his father, Brown receiving great Mark Farnham Sr.
“He'll catch anything,” Estes said. “And he has that type of personality where he'll need to learn everything about (a subject). You tell him he can't do something, he'll prove you wrong.”
Former Brown teammate and defensive tackle David Howard was drafted by the Titans, but Farnham had settled for a tryout with the Bucs. That is, until Brown graduate and Patriots quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien called and asked him to try out for the Pats.
The player who grew up idolizing former Brown and Patriots standout Sean Morey has a chance. But what now?
Players have all been sent home, banished from the facility until May 17. They are tasked with trying to remember what they learned from far away.
“We can do the physical stuff, it's not too taxing,” said Central Michigan receiver Bryan Anderson, an undrafted free agent. “But when you don't know what you're doing, it makes things a lot harder.”
As for coach Bill Belichick, his plan is to do a thorough evaluation in the coming weeks.
“After this is over,” Belichick said, “you spend a little time next week going over a couple of days and see what the performance was over that period of time rather than on one or two plays.”
The players all talked about “digging in their playbooks,” but even two days of work barely scratched the surface. All they wanted to do was get to a point where they could play fast without thinking so much. That's the job now.
“There was a few slipups, that's going to happen,” former Ohio receiver Taylor Price said. “The thing is, you don't want to make the same mistake twice.”