Every team is a Super Bowl contender during training camp, at least that's what the local media in each NFL town seems to think. Puff pieces about teams/players/coaches often read something like, "[Player X] is poised to have a career year because he's getting over [ailment/personal tragedy/weight issues/immaturity]. He will have a key role in [Team Y] making [playoffs/Super Bowl] after last season's [surprise/disappointment]."
To celebrate the brimming positivity being felt by each of the NFL's 32 fanbases, this month Shutdown Corner will take a team-by-team look at the flowery and buoyant prose being written by local columnists and writers, and the hopeful quotes of players and coaches in our daily feature, Camp Sunshine. This morning, the New England Patriots:
Enduring the rigors that come with being an NFL player will certainly put hair on a young man's chest, but nothing accelerates the maturation process like becoming a father.
The Patriots offensive lineman -- and sometimes fullback and tight end -- and wife Lori have a daughter named Caroline, who celebrated her first birthday on Tuesday. Asked this week how he would describe himself off the field, it is his baby girl who comes to mind first.
Indianapolis isn't great, but it's no Sodom:
[Marques] Murrell played in 10 games last season and recorded 12 tackles. He played in the Jets' AFC Championship game loss to the Colts and had two special teams tackles, but Murrell isn't thinking much about his previous seasons.
"That's behind me,'' he said. "You never look into the past. You might turn into a pillar of salt.''
Presented without comment:
"I know I'm the stuff. [...] I know how good I am.
The party pooper:
The Patriots ran wild on the Falcons on Thursday night, a development that led to optimism inside the locker room. A day later, Bill Belichick did his part in limiting such premature enthusiasm.
"We lost yardage on seven of our running plays, so that's not very good," said Belichick, evening out the emotions. "If we had seven sacks, everyone would be up in arms and it would be the big story of the day. But seven running plays that lost yardage nobody seems to care about, but what's the difference? I think we can do things better."