FOXBORO -- At 35-years-old, Tom Brady's time is running out.
But Brady has a different viewpoint than those who are more concerned with the thought of what comes after the Brady era, rather than what will happen in the next month.
"Well, from the day we're born, I think we're always one day closer to dying," said Brady, when asked about his time running out.
"I don't quite look at it like that," added Brady. "Yeah, I'm very appreciative of having this opportunity."
So Brady knows. He's just not thinking of the end of his career. Nor should he be.
Still, he's trying to take advantage of every opportunity he has from here on out.
"It certainly is meaningful for me," said Brady about another playoff appearance. "I know it's meaningful for our whole team, and what we're attempting to accomplish. So, yeah, you don't take these things for granted. It's a privilege to be in this position that we're in. We're one of four teams to have played well enough over the course of the year to deserve the first-round bye.
"And we'll be watching this weekend. You're kind of still on high alert for football, and the situational awareness, and watching the games and so forth. Your mind is still very much in the game. But, when we figure out who we'll play, we'll jump right into that and get going."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around.
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world.
-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks.
-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team.
-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.
For the first six weeks of the season, Patriots veteran linebacker David Harris was little more than an insurance policy.
At $1.25 million guaranteed this season, he was one of the pricer policies on the team, but his playing time told the story of where he stood on Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's depth chart. His seven total defensive snaps slotted him in behind Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Dont'a Hightower among off-the-ball 'backers.
So when Harris saw 19 snaps -- making three tackles in the process -- against the Falcons and their speedy offensive weapons on Sunday night, it caught our attention. Here are a few of the elements that came into play, leading to Harris' increase in playing time.
1) Injuries to other Patriots linebackers created an opening for Harris. Roberts was announced as inactive prior to kickoff due to an ankle injury. Later in the night, Hightower suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him from action. That left Van Noy, Harris and Marquis Flowers as the team's linebackers in uniform. Harris got the nod over Flowers, who's primarily a special-teamer.
2) Falcons personnel called for the Patriots to use their base defense at times. The game opened with the Falcons going with a two-back set, encouraging Belichick to go with bigger personnel. The Patriots didn't have to stick with their regular group because the Falcons used primarily one-back sets over the course of the night, But even with Hightower healthy and available, what happened early in the game proved that there were certain packages that called for Harris to be on the field. He saw one early, picking up his first start as a member of the Patriots.
3) The work Harris has put in during practices and off the field allowed the Patriots coaching staff to trust him when he was called upon. Belichick has lauded Harris all season for his professionalism, and on Monday morning he continued to heap praise on the 33-year-old. "As always, I think David works hard and is very well prepared and did all of the right things that we would want him to do from an assignment standpoint," Belichick said. "He gave us some good plays, was in on a few plays. Again, handled the communication in the front well. We’ll see if we can build on it. We’ve got a lot of good play from a number of guys and he’s certainly part of that group."