June 29, 2012 09:48:03 PM
It?s easy to be in awe when you spend time around National Football League superstars such as Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski.
Unless you?re Jeremiah Warren.
The Bay High School and USF graduate recently spent time getting acquainted with his New England Patriots? teammates in rookie and full-roster offseason organized team activities. The minicamps were a way to immerse new players into the system, while also giving the opportunity to size up competition heading into July training camps.
Warren was among nine offensive linemen working at center and guard. Nearly 90 Patriots took part in the early-June camp, an increase from the limit of 80 a year before. Teams will need to be down to 75 after the third preseason game and 53 for the regular-season opener.
Warren hopes he is one of those 53. The undrafted free agent said these camps were all about business and learning as much as he can in the short time.
?Those guys have more experience than I do, obviously,? Warren said. ?Most of them have been there a while, so I wanted their feedback, to learn what to do in certain situations, learn new techniques and how to process information.?
Warren, who said his playing weight will be 320 pounds, noted the speed of the game, both on the field and in scheme sessions, is faster than college. That was to be expected, however, and he said it?s like walking on campus for the first time.
?College was a training experience, but there?s a lot to learn here,? Warren said. ?I feel like a freshman all over again.?
He said teammates and coaches were open and willing to give him advice or critiques. He said other players didn?t seem threatened by the new faces, simply because they?ve been through this before after rookies flood on to the roster.
Much of his time was spent with the offensive line unit. He said he didn?t have a chance to speak to Brady, the Super Bowl winning quarterback, or any of the other offensive players. He said he will seek out Brady if he makes the team.
?It was incredible and sit there and watch them (Brady and other top veterans) work,? Warren said. ?To see how intense they take practice and drills, it puts it in perspective how serious it is. This is no joke, it?s a serious business.?
And it remains serious even while away from the team. Warren is staying focused and working out between now and the July 23 training camp report date. He also will attend the NFL?s rookie symposium next week in Cleveland, Ohio, along with another former Tornado, Bert Reed, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Browns.
There may not have been time to be awestruck in recent weeks, but that will likely change for Warren when thousands of fans fill Gillette Stadium for the preseason opener against New Orleans Aug. 9.
?It?s a little anticipation and nervousness,? Warren said. ?I?ll be going against guys who have been in the league a long time.
?It will be a dream come true to go against that type of competition. It will be an amazing feeling.?