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IT'S A MEAN SCREEN PLAY TRIGGERS A TEAM SCUFFLE
Boston Globe - THURSDAY, August 7, 1997
By: Jim Greenidge, Globe Staff
SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Some Patriots -- coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Drew
Bledsoe among them -- figured yesterday morning's practice was the
team's finest of training camp. It certainly wasn't lacking in intensity. Or
Team spirit reached new horizons on a
screen pass to running back Curtis Martin. As he caught the ball, the Pro Bowl
running back was belted, head-on, by outside linebacker Tedy
Bruschi, who never left his feet and never circled his arms in bringing down
Nevertheless, it provoked passionate reaction. Offensive
tackle Bruce Armstrong was upset by the force of the hit applied to one of New
England's primary offensive weapons and went after Bruschi, hitting him
from behind. Both the offense and defense then spilled
onto the field to take up the cause of their comrades before order was restored.
"I doubt this is the first day that we've hit,"
Martin said. "We've been hitting like this before. It just happened to be one
hit that everyone sparked up about and there was fire.
To me, I wasn't mad. It was a good hit. I liked that. It just shows that
mentality our team is going after it, and we needed it. I personally
wanted to take a hit like that to see if I would be able to hold on to the
There was no
fumble on the play, and Martin was not injured. But Armstrong
apparently didn't want to take any chances.
"Bruce was just looking out for me, just making sure
I'm not beat up out there," said Martin, "and I really appreciated
it. I thanked him five times for doing that -- not that I want him to beat up on
BRUSCHI PROVES TO BE AN IMPACT PLAYER
Boston Globe - FRIDAY, August 15, 1997
By: Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Tedy Bruschi is reluctant to be labeled the Patriots'
resident kamikaze. When Bruschi makes a hit, you can not
only see it but hear it -- and sometimes even feel the vibration.
"I was just never afraid to
fly in there and see what happens," Bruschi said. "If I flew
in there and it hurt, then fine, it hurt. That's great, and I'd get more
encouragement to keep going. Kamikaze? I don't know about that.
"We used to
play football when I was a kid. I used to play tackle with no pads.
That's sort of different. I don't know where it originated, but I'm not
afraid to fly and suffer the consequences. But in contrast to
his wild on-field persona, Bruschi is a quiet sort away from the game.
"I don't do such crazy things off the field," he said.
"Playing football is the craziest thing I have going for me
right now. No reckless abandon off the field, no. That's not me."
The former University of Arizona
defensive end, who has been shifted primarily to linebacker
but still plays on the line at times in nickel situations, was a
third-round draft pick two years ago. The rap was that at 6 feet 1
inch, 245 pounds, he was too small to play in the NFL. And if he did make it,
the assumption was he'd forever be a role player.
If he's that now, then he's
a big-time role player. If there's one player Pete Carroll has
mentioned more than any other in glowing terms throughout camp, it's
"His upside is tremendous," said
Carroll. "There's no limit as to how good he could be. He can
do so many things on the football field, but we really like him as a pass
rusher. He gets after it."
He's almost like a police dog sniffing for
the goods. When he sees the quarterback out there and he's in
a rushing or blitzing situation, "It's like a metamorphosis, I
guess," he said. "But I think my mentality has changed since I
played linebacker. There's a lot of dropping back into coverage,
but sometimes something clicks in my head when I'm supposed to blitz
and go get the passer or when they make the defense in the nickel.
Something happens. I hope someday I can treat all coverages the
same, but right now I'm not as comfortable as I want to
be playing the linebacker spot."
Bruschi knows his strength is
getting to the passer. He is tied with Kansas City's Derrick Thomas (Alabama)
for the all-time NCAA sack record of 52. He also ranks
sixth in NCAA history in tackles for losses -- 74. He sacked the
quarterback 14 1/2 times his senior year for losses totaling 96 yards. He made
19 1/2 tackles for losses totaling 110 yards as a senior.
He carries himself confidently, fearlessly. Hitting hard and
playing the game at 100 miles per hour are his calling cards. "That's
a big fraction of what it is that got
me here now," said Bruschi. "The numbers aren't the best on me in terms of
height and weight. When I walk into a room,
people don't say, `Wow, there's Tedy Bruschi walking in.' Sometimes
when they see me play, they say, `There he is again.' "
He's a tough kid who grew up in San Francisco and
in Roseville, Calif. He didn't play football until his freshman year at
Roseville High. He was all-conference and all-Northern California as a defensive
tackle, a top shot putter and discus thrower, and he
wrestled as a heavyweight. After arriving at Arizona in 1991, he got
hurt, first with a pinched neck nerve and then with a broken left
thumb. He was redshirted that year, and the following year, he
was switched to outside linebacker. Though he started
only one game, he finished the season with 4 1/2 sacks. By '93, he was
back on the defensive line, sacked the quarterback 19 times, and was
the team's MVP as a sophomore.
By his junior year, Bruschi had
become an All-American and was a finalist for the
Lombardi Award as the top lineman in college football. That domination
continued into his senior year. "One thing I thought
coming out of college is I knew this would be a different game,"
said Bruschi, "but I was going to treat it the same way mentally. I
was gonna treat it like something I was gonna succeed at and saw it
as a challenge. And I want to do the best I can and meet it full
steam. If that's not good enough, then that's not good enough, but I'm not
going to have any regrets.
"That's the same way I approached it playing high school
football when I was 14 when I first put on the pads. I
approached it the same way when I was an 18-year-old and the same way when I was
a rookie last year."
Bruschi kept showing up on special teams
last year. He recovered a blocked punt at Baltimore Oct. 6 and
returned it 4 yards for a touchdown, his first at any level. Then he started
being used in nickel situations, finishing the year with four sacks and 11
tackles. Two of his sacks were in the Super Bowl.
But he came into camp having to prove himself to
a new coaching staff. He had to overcome a knee
injury suffered at the midpoint of the 1996 season, though it
wasn't publicized. He played through the pain and
discomfort the rest of the year before
Dr. Bert Zarins performed arthroscopic surgery to repair
a small tear. Bruschi sat out the minicamps while recovering. "There are
a lot of question marks because they hadn't seen
me do anything except what they saw on film," said Bruschi. "I
think if anyone had a lot of questions, there was a lot of things I
had to have answered. There were times when I
couldn't practice because there was pain, and coming into the
second practice, the two-a-days were tough. The pain is a lot better than it was
last year before the surgery. Dr. Zarins did a great job. It's 100
percent better. I can't wait until Friday
when those one-a-days start."
Bruschi knows he's behind Chris Slade, Ted Johnson, and
Todd Collins on the depth chart. He knows that in order to become a
regular fixture on the defense, he has to learn his craft better. "I don't think
it's paying my dues," he said. "It's just learning how to play the position and
reading things and reacting to them."
He didn't mind it when Carroll called him a freak the
other day during a press conference because the coach has seen Bruschi do things
others can' "It's OK to be a freak once in a while, I guess," he said,
"I'm not a monster, either," he added. "Everybody likes
to hit. I'm no going in with the attitude that I'm gonna rip this guy's
head off, but I'm gonna hit him hard." You can count on that.
BRUSCHI IS STEPPING IN FOR COLLINS
Boston Globe - SATURDAY, September 6, 1997
By: Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH - The Indianapolis Colts should expect a "few new wrinkles" by
the Patriots' defense tomorrow, one being that
Tedy Bruschi will start at outside linebacker in
place of Todd Collins, who will suit up but is still tender from a hamstring
The Patriots will likely be
missing defensive end Willie McGinest (hamstring), who ran but
didn't take part in full drills yesterday; center Dave Wohlabaugh (ankle);
and wide receiver Terry Glenn (ankle). Cornerback Steve Israel (knee) might suit
McGinest said, "It
feels better every day, but I still don't know if I can play. I have to talk to
the medical people." One Patriots official thought McGinest
probably would be held out for the second straight game in favor of Mike
Jones, who had two sacks against the Chargers last week.
Bruschi, who has been an exciting player in third-down
situations, will get his first chance to be a full-timer. "I think
there'll be emphasis on me this week," said Bruschi. "I think I'll get some
attention. I think I've had a good week of practice. I've got my reps in
and I have a little better understanding of the position than I have in the
Bruschi will likely be used a lot to rush QB Jim
Harbaugh, though he'll also have to assume some of Collins's coverage duties.
"It's all mental for me now," said Bruschi. "We have a
few different wrinkles to keep them off balance.
"The transition has been
coming along well. Sometimes I go sideways, but I've tried my
best to recognize things. Believe me, it's been tough. The more experience I
get, the better I'll be." Bruschi was a defensive lineman at Arizona but
was too small to play up front in the pros. It was current special teams and
former linebacker coach Dante Scarnecchia who first recognized he could play
behind the line.
"Tedy looks very much at home," said coach Pete
Carroll. "He still has some aspects of the game that will
become natural to him in time. But he can play the position quite well. He has
special rush characteristics about him."
With Bruschi starting and Collins playing
only if the second-year man has a hard time, Carroll said he'll rely more
on rookie Vernon Crawford to back up at the outside spots. The
Patriots decided in camp to go with six linebackers. Carroll said he
has a contingency plan if another linebacker gets hurt but wouldn't divulge it.
Football; Bruschi steps up
Saturday, September 6, 1997
FOXBORO -- The week before his first NFL start, second-year Patriots linebacker
Tedy Bruschi was in the headlines for getting hit by the league with a $7,500
fine for last week's "helmet-to-helmet" hit on Chargers quarterback Stan
Behind the headlines, there was a good story about a good
player who will start for Todd Collins at outside linebacker tomorrow at the RCA
Dome when the Patriots take on the Colts.
As a collegiate player at Arizona, Bruschi played defensive
end well enough to collect 52 career sacks, tying him with Derrick Thomas for
the NCAA Division 1-A record. The skill was there, but at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds,
NFL scouts considered him too small to be a defensive lineman. And because he'd
never played linebacker, teams were hesitant to use a high choice on him in the
1996 NFL draft.
But a year earlier, the Patriots had gambled a third-round
pick on an injury-plagued running back named Curtis Martin - and that didn't
turn out to be too bad a decision.
So last year, the Patriots took another third-round gamble
and grabbed the aggressive but undersized Wildcats star.
Bruschi played special teams most of the year while the team
experimented with him at various positions. Late in the season, he was inserted
into the dime defense as a pass rusher. He responded with six sacks - two in the
Super Bowl. In the AFC championship game against Jacksonville, he had four
tackles, two deflections and an interception.
Exit Bill Parcells and enter Pete Carroll, whose defensive
philosophy emphasizes good pass rushers. It was clear Bruschi would have a place
in the new regime. The question was, where? That's where special teams coach
Dante Scarnecchia - Parcells' linebackers coach last season - came in.
"We didn't get to see a lot of film on him," Carroll
admitted. "Even in the (pass rush defense) he was on the line. But Dante
recommended highly that, given time, the guy could be a linebacker who could be
an effective player behind the line of scrimmage, as well as a pass rusher.
"I think he was very accurate," Carroll said. "Tedy
looks very much at home there."
Bruschi looked so comfortable at linebacker that, by the end
of training camp, the Patriots released veteran Monty Brown. Todd Collins was
the starter, with Bruschi the backup - as well as a regular participant in the
pass defense units.
"Watching Tedy in practice," Scarnecchia recalled, "we saw
the instincts of a linebacker. He could find the ball even though he'd never
been trained at the position. He also played really well behind the line in
It may have looked easy, but Bruschi said looks were
"There was no way I was comfortable at first," Bruschi said.
"Last year I didn't know a hook-drop (pass pattern) from anything. I had no
clue. I couldn't read run from pass. All I'd ever done was attack, attack.
Having to switch to linebacker, where you have to read and react, was a big
change. You have to totally turn your brain around.
"I'm not where I want to be, but it's night and day from
where I was a year ago. I need to get some experience under my belt."
And fast. Knowing he's a first-time starter, the Colts will
probably target him.
(from) These are the players I'd want
in my foxhole.
(NFL Insider)Pompei, Dan,.
The Sporting News,
Tedy Bruschi, Patriots and Ray Lewis, Ravens.
Bruschi, a non-starter, gets a spot because he goes after the passer as if
he were on fire and the quarterback was a pool. He'd be the first
volunteer to dive on a grenade. Even as a rookie last year, Lewis was the
acknowledged leader on a defense full of veterans. Ravens vice president
of player personnel Ozzie Newsome says Lewis never has been intimidated.
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