NFL: Workouts not cause to start freaking out

It’s customary for sports fans to make mountains out of molehills — especially when it comes to NFL free agency.

Whenever the Patriots are rumored to be bringing in a stud or two to work out, New England goes on high alert. Fans chatter. Talk radio goes ballistic.

In a crazy offseason, that’s understandable. But it’s not necessarily based on anything. “Workout” doesn’t mean “freak out.”

A typical meeting between a player and team this time of year is usually to check on the player’s health. He’ll take physicals, and the team will see what shape he’s in on the field with conditioning tests and the like.

Take the latest high-profile Pats workouts — safety Darren Sharper and wide receiver T.J.
Houshmandzadeh. Both are proven stars, and both still show the ability to compete in the NFL.

That doesn’t mean that Brandon Meriweather is trade bait, or that Chad Ochocinco is going to be released — both rumors over the last few days.

It just means the Patriots are testing out the market — why not?

And if you think they’re more aggressive this season than last, you’re mistaken.

“We worked out the same amount of players at this time at training camp this year than we have in years past,” player personnel czar Nick Caserio said yesterday.

“We’re doing our homework,” Caserio added, “trying to stay prepared, trying to gather as much information as we can on the players … It’s just part of, I’d say, standard operating procedure.”



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