FOXBORO -- The humble pie assembly line is already cranking.
With sky-high expectations heaped upon the 2017 Patriots before they've even taken the field for their first preseason game, there has been an overwhelming effort to shift the pendulum back in the opposite direction. Coaches, current players, former players. They're all in on it.
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In the spring, Bill Belichick emphatically, rightfully, pointed out that this year's club had accomplished nothing. Matthew Slater said it was "disrespectful" for people to be talking about the Patriots potentially going undefeated, and Devin McCourty echoed his fellow captain's sentiments by saying that kind of discussion is "ludicrous."
On Tuesday, Willie McGinest spoke to the team and shared an ignore-the-noise kind of message. He knows what the talk has been this offseason after the defending champions appeared to improve their roster this offseason.
Then, on Wednesday, at the end of Vince Wilfork's retirement ceremony, the former Patriots defensive tackle said this year's team has to prove its worth since it has done zero to this point in the summer.
"If I had to tell them anything it's just that . . . prove it," Wilfork said. "Prove you're good. Prove you are champions. Don't believe it. Just prove it. It's easy to believe in your heart and in your mind that you're good, you're great. You can believe that. But prove it. I want to see it. Everybody else wants to see it. So I don't talk about how good we're going to be. Prove it to me. That's what I would tell them . . . Prove that you want to be Super Bowl champions. Prove it. That's what I would give them."
As a member of two different teams that "proved it," Wilfork's words would probably carry some weight for any 2017 Patriots players who may have started to buy in to the media coverage they've received to this point.