FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick looked at the defensive backfield talent standing on the sideline at Gillette Stadium on Friday night and wished it was 10 years ago.
On a day when former All-Pro cornerback Ty Law entered the Patriot Hall of Fame, many of his former teammates and big names from the Patriots’ three Super Bowl wins in the four-year run from 2002-05 showed up to honor him, including Rodney Harrison, Lawyer Milloy, Otis Smith, Troy Brown and Tedy Bruschi. The defensive backfield was particularly well-represented in the mini-reunion.
“It was a good group here tonight. It really was,” Belichick said after the team’s open practice before a crowd of 22,866. “It was awesome to see those guys. That’s a pretty good secondary standing over there, with Ty and Otis at the corner, Rodney and Lawyer at safety, and then we got Troy Brown who could be our nickel back. That’s an awesome group of guys.”
Belichick found moments to relive old times with many of the former Patriots.
The assembled talent, including Law, who wore No. 24 for the Pats, impressed the Pats’ current No. 24, All-Pro Darrelle Revis.
“I don’t even have words for it. I respect those guys so much,” he said. “Going and watching them, watching Ty, learning from Ty, seeing Rodney play as well, you got Troy Brown, he played in the nickel as well. It’s great, man.”
The Patriots’ last home practice until after their game against the Washington Redskins on Aug. 7 was the closest thing that an NFL training camp practice comes to a party.
Quarterback Tom Brady chatted with former teammates while backups Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo took almost all of the snaps.
NFL COMMISSIONER Roger Goodell defended himself against criticism that he was too lenient in suspending Ray Rice two games for his “horrible mistake.”
“We just can’t make up the discipline,” Goodell said. “It has to be consistent with other cases. And it was in this matter.”
Goodell stressed that the Baltimore running back has assumed responsibility for his conduct, has no history of assault and is following a court order to enter a diversionary program following his domestic violence arrest.
BROWNS: Wide receiver Josh Gordon’s appeal hearing with the NFL reportedly lasted nearly 10 hours and will resume Monday.
The Pro Bowler is fighting a possible one-year suspension for failing another drug test. Gordon’s lawyer contends he tested positive because of secondhand smoke.