`Smooth’ Holt set for new start with Patriots

As a rookie more than a decade ago, Torry Holt was a champion.

Now one of the most prolific receivers in NFL history calls himself

something else.

“Flat out smooth,” the new Patriots pass-catcher said after

practicing in long sleeves with temperatures hovering near 90

degrees. “When you say smooth, everything comes with smooth. Good

hands, good feet, student, routes, etc., etc. Smooth.

“Just call me smooth.”

“Smooth” joined “speedy” (Randy Moss) and “elusive” (Wes

Welker) as targets for Tom Brady after signing as a free agent last

month after one season with Jacksonville. Holt was the only one of

those four who attended New England’s optional organized team

activities Wednesday.

Holt is 11th in NFL history with 920 catches, 10th with 13,382

yards receiving and third with 77.4 yards receiving per game. Moss

is 10th in catches with 926 and sixth in yards receiving with

14,465. Welker led the NFL in receptions in 2007 and 2009 and had

the most catches in the league, 346, over the past three

seasons.

Welker is recovering from knee surgery after being injured in

the final regular season game and is expected to miss the start of

the season. But when he was introduced at his courtside seat at a

recent playoff game between the Celtics and Orlando Magic he got up

and did a little dance to the music on the sound system.

“I think I fit in well,” Holt said on the third day of OTAs.

“They’re guys that I can learn from (to) fit in where I see fit or

where the coaching staff sees I fit.”

Holt, who turns 34 on June 5, has missed just three regular

season games in his 11 pro seasons. He spent the first 10 with St.

Louis, winning the Super Bowl with the Rams as a rookie then losing

it to the Patriots two years later 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri’s

last-play field goal.

He hardly thinks about that now. He’s focused instead on trying

to help his new team return there.

“You have to set it aside right now,” Holt said. “It doesn’t

hold any weight. Now you have to go out and rejuvenate yourself as

a football team, as a player and try to go out and play and jell as

a team and then, hopefully, get to that point.”

Holt is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who has never had fewer

than 51 catches or 772 yards in a season. But both of those came

last year when he started 12 of the 15 games he played for the

Jaguars.

In the 2000 Super Bowl, he set a rookie record with seven

catches and 109 yards receiving in the Rams 23-16 win over

Tennessee.

In 2002 with the Rams, he had five catches for 49 yards in the

Super Bowl loss to the team he’s now with.

“I came into the National Football League with great success

early on and (with) a taste of that success you want to continue to

have that success year in and year out,” Holt said. “I got that

taste in my mouth and that’s what feeds me and fuels me every

single day.”

Brady was the quarterback for the Patriots three Super Bowl

championships – and also for last season’s loss in the first round

of the playoffs. Holt has spoken with him a few times.

“It’s been all business,” Holt said. “It’s been all about

football and getting going.”

The first session of OTAs ends Thursday.

“It’s learning my teammates, learning the coaches, learning the

playbook,” he said, “because as things progress things have a

tendency of picking up” speed.

Three more multi-day OTA sessions are scheduled for the first

half of June.

“Football is a humbling sport,” Holt said. “I’ve always said,

and I’ve had coaches tell me, `you never got it (made). You never

got it in this league and as long as you’re working to improve as a

football team and improve as an individual player, your chances to

succeed are very high.”