FOXBORO -- Tom Brady strolled into the Patriots locker room just before 7 a.m., trench coat on, rolling his suitcase toward his stall, with Julian Edelman following closely alongside.
"Unbelievable," Brady said when he saw that the room was half-filled with reporters and cameras. "You guys should have the morning off."
It's not often that members of the media beat the Patriots quarterback to the locker room, but due to the team's packed schedule on Friday before its departure for San Francisco, the early-morning access period -- which ran from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. -- was the only time of day when players could be made available before their first meetings of the day.
Players trickled in, most of them arriving after Brady, and went about their morning routines while working around the reporters in the room. Nate Solder was present in the locker room after missing Thursday's practice, chowing on some breakfast and chatting with a couple of reporters before getting his day going. Danny Amendola sipped on the first of what he said would be multiple coffees. Newly acquired tight end Matt Lengel got a workout in.
A couple of players met with a large group of reporters to answer questions, including fullback James Develin and Trey Flowers.
Best way to wake up before an early-morning meeting, Flowers was asked? "Bright lights and cameras in your face," he said smiling.
"I wasn't expecting to see all you guys in here this morning," Develin offered. "Nice little surprise."
To be sure. They could barely contain their excitement.