Headed into a 'new season', Patriots relying on old routine


Headed into a 'new season', Patriots relying on old routine

FOXBORO -- Yes, it's the postseason. And yes, the Patriots haven't played the Titans in a while. But that doesn't mean that this is the time to shake things up when it comes to preparation.

Study. Practice. Meetings. Work out. Eat right. Sleep well. Treatment. Rinse. Repeat. Just like every other week. That's the plan, at least.


The only alteration the Patriots will make is one the schedule forced them to: Kick-start the preparations a day earlier than usual since the Divisional Round matchup is coming up on Saturday night.

"You know, I think the thing for us is just staying in our routine," said center David Andrews. "Our routine got us here. There’s nothing more you need to do. You don’t need to stay up here till midnight watching film. If that’s your routine, go ahead, but if that’s not your routine, you don’t need to do that.

"But, it’s definitely going to be important for us to be familiar with these guys. I think we’ve done a good job of that really from the time we knew to the time I’m sitting here talking to y’all. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll come in tomorrow, we’ll get really working on them, get really going, but like I said, I think just stick to your routine. Don’t do anything crazy. But, it’s definitely key to respect your opponent and put that work in."

Of the 53 players on the Patriots roster, 12 have yet to experience postseason play. They're stepping into a new world, special teams ace Matthew Slater explained.

"The intensity, speed of the game, everyone’s playing with a great deal of urgency," Slater said when asked about the difference between the postseason and regular-season play. "When it comes to the football season, it’s literally do or die. You either find a way to get it done and play winning football or you hope to be back next season. I think everybody understands, as I said, this is a very temporary game that we play. Nothing’s guaranteed to anyone. So, when you get out there in playoff football you feel that urgency. You feel the speed of the game. You feel guys fighting and clawing every single play. That’s something that you can’t simulate. That’s something that you better try to get yourself ready for mentally and physically because it’s going to take everything you have come playoff situations."

But that doesn't necessarily mean more hours in the facilities will prepare a player for that kind of transition.

"The preparation is still very [much] the same," Andrews insisted. "You know, how we prepare works for us, and that’s how we’re going to prepare. But, there’s definitely a sense of urgency. I mean, it’s the NFL playoffs. It’s win or go home. There’s no tomorrow. There’s no, ‘Hey, next week.’ There’s no, ‘Oh, we’ll get it fixed.’ Either do this or you’re at home sitting on the couch. Everyone understands that. Everyone’s mature enough to really understand that."

Andrews, 25, has already played in five postseason games. Slater, 32, is looking at his 17th. Both captains, they'll be expected to come up with a play or two against the Titans. But it could just as well be someone like rookie Deatrich Wise, former Bills practice-squad player Eric Lee, or outside-the-number burner Brandin Cooks -- all about to see their first playoff game -- who makes the key play.

"Coach Belichick always says, ‘It’s not about playoff experience. It’s about playoff execution.’ And you look at it time and time again, every year there seems to be a guy with not a great deal of playoff experience as far as games appeared in that’s making a huge play," Slater said. "The examples are countless here in this locker room. You look at Tennessee and those guys are playing their first playoff game and, yeah, guys are all over the field making plays. They were inexperienced heading in but they found a way to execute going into the game.

"Our message this week is just to go out there, make sure that you prepare at a high level all week long and then Saturday it’s about execution. It’s not about how many games you’ve played in. It’s not about what you’ve accomplished in the regular season or over the course of your career. It’s about executing Saturday night, Foxboro Stadium, Gillette, fans loud, cold. It’s about executing."


Brady no-shows for presser, Patriots announce he has an injury


Brady no-shows for presser, Patriots announce he has an injury

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was scheduled to meet with the assembled media today. But he did not.

When his turn came up -- after Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and Bill Belichick had already spoken -- Patriots media relations chief Stacey James went to the front of the room and announced that Brady was meeting with team medical personnel and will not be able to conduct his press conference. Brady will show up on the team's injury report Wednesday, James noted. 

Brady was last on the Patriots injury report before his team's Week 17 game against the Jets. He did not participate in Wednesday's practice that week -- he was listed with an Achilles and left shoulder injury -- and he was a limited participant on Thursday. He was removed from the injury report on Friday of that week.

Brady was originally scheduled to speak with reporters twice this week, Wednesday and Thursday. It's unclear if Wednesday's absence will impact the overall number of occasions he's made available this week. 

UPDATE: Brady was listed with a right hand injury on the team's practice participation/injury report, and was said to be limited at practice:


Limited participation
QB Tom Brady (right hand)
DL Alan Branch (knee)
RB Rex Burkhead (knee)
RB Mike Gillislee (knee)


Did not participate
FS Tashaun Gipson (foot)
OL Patrick Omameh (illness)

Limited participation
SS Barry Church (shoulder)
RB Leonard Fournette (ankle)
DT Malik Jackson (ankle)

Full participation
QB Blake Bortles (right wrist)
LB Paul Posluszny (abdomen)

Marrone says camp practices highlighted the gap between Patriots, Jaguars


Marrone says camp practices highlighted the gap between Patriots, Jaguars

FOXBORO -- They just weren't at the same level.

After a series of training camp practices between the Jaguars and Patriots, that was the takeaway new Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone underscored. The Patriots were the Patriots. And the Jaguars . . . well, they had work to do. 

"I viewed that as we really had a lot of work ahead of us," Marrone said on a conference call Wednesday, just days before the teams met at Gillette Stadium once again for the AFC title game.

"I think that's the one thing that I learned from practicing up there for those three days. How much stuff that we were behind on, and how much ground we needed to make up in a short period of time. Obviously we were all new, and I just thought that they were much further ahead than we were. I think it was good for me to point out to our players how much further we had to go. How long we had to go. And how much work we had to put in."

Since then, with some help from Marrone's hard coaching, the Jaguars went 10-6 to win the AFC South, and they recorded one of the best defensive seasons for any team in recent memory. They finished the year as the league's top passing defense and its second-ranked defense in terms of points allowed, yards allowed and sacks. 

The defensive talent in Jacksonville is top-tier, no doubt. And president Tom Coughlin seems to have made a sizable impact on the identity of the club. But Marrone, an old-school coach by all accounts, deserves some credit for helping his team embrace its punch-you-in-the-mouth mentality.

The question is, is it possible that Jaguars fans may have Bill Belichick to thank, in part, for the Jaguars landing Marrone in the first place? Earlier on Wednesday, The MMQB's Albert Breer tweeted that Marrone received a "glowing recommendation" from Belichick when Marrone was being considered for his current gig. 

Asked about his relationship with Belichick on Wednesday, and what a recommendation like that meant to him, Marrone was eager to throw praise Belichick's way. 

"I think if you're a coach, I don't care what level you're at -- you're at high school, college, NFL -- you look at the success of Coach Belichick, and I was always the type of guy that would try to learn as much as I can from people that've been successful, so that maybe I wouldn't make a mistake, or maybe that person made a mistake while they were coming up.

"Obviously, Coach is an outstanding person. And we all know what kind of coach he is, but he's an outstanding person. It's just been difficult obviously to draw that information out of him so I try to get around him as much as I can to try to learn. That's the truth.

"I have an unbelievable amountt of respect for what he's done. It's really . . . You look back and just being able to compete against him, with the challenges it presents, is what you thrive on from a competitive standpoint. I can't say enough good things about him, really."