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."


Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

Patriots stay busy, reportedly sign Patrick Chung to extension

The Patriots have been busy in the last 48 hours. They made a trade to bring in a second McCourty. They signed a defensive end, a running back and an offensive lineman. And now they're extending one of their own. 

According to NFL Media, the Patriots are signing safety Patrick Chung to a short-term contract extension. Chung was headed into the final year of his contract and was set to earn $2 million in base salary. It's the third extension Chung has signed with New England in a little more than three years. 

Chung, who turns 31 in August, is arguably Bill Belichick's most versatile defender. He is able to play a traditional strong safety role, covering tight ends and backs and playing in run support. He's also been used at the "star" spot to take on opposing slot receivers, and he'll occasionally rush the passer. He's also still a key contributor in the kicking game. 

"The guy is a really good football player," Belichick said of Chung earlier in January. "He’s one of the best players in the league, one of the best players on our team. He does a lot of things very well and has done them that way for a long time. We’re lucky we have him. He’s an outstanding player in all the things that he does. We put a lot on him, and he always comes through."

Chung's second go-round with the Patriots has breathed new life into his career. 

Drafted in the second round in 2009 - with a pick the Patriots picked up by trading Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs - Chung was used in more of a traditional deep safety role. That gig didn't exactly maximize his skill set, and in 2013 he signed with the Eagles to play under his college coach at Oregon, Chip Kelly. 

The Eagles released Chung after one season, and the Patriots re-signed him with a different role in mind. A strong tackler who wasn't afraid to mix it up at the linebacker level, Chung started to be deployed more often in the box. He readily admitted, he welcomed the change to be a little closer to the action. 

In 2015, Chung signed an extension to tack on three years to what was initially a one-year contract. In 2016, he signed another one-year extension. 

"We took the guy in the second round," Belichick said last season. "But it just - for a combination of reasons, I'd say a big part of it [being] mistakes that I personally made - it didn’t work out the way that we hoped it would. But we got it right the second time. I think we've been able to utilize him. I wish we had been able to do that when we initially got him, but it didn’t work out that way. Like I said, I think we finally got it right."


Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots RB Danny Woodhead announces retirement

Former Patriots running back Danny Woodhead has announced his retirement after 10 years in the NFL.

The 33-year-old took to Instagram to make it official.

10 years! Wow, God had crazy plans for a small little kid from North Platte, NE! It’s been a wild ride and feel so blessed He allowed me to do what I loved for so long. But now it’s time to say goodbye to the game I love. First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Without Him my career wouldn’t have been possible. He blessed me with the gifts and He paved the way. All I had to do was follow His plans for my life, and His plans were crazy awesome! Next, I want to thank my wife who has been by my side since freshman year of high school. She has been a rock through all the ups and downs. Sis, Willy, Mae Mae, and Hopie your daddy is going to be home a ton more and I can’t wait! Thanks to my Dad and Mom for always supporting me and showing me that God is first, then everything else will fall into place. Ben, Joel, and Anna thanks for preparing me for the NFL in our backyard games growing up. The dreaded in-laws Steve and Suzie for always being there for me. Chris Gittings (agent) you’re the best and thankful your my brother/uncle! Thank you Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Ravens! Thanks to all my head coaches (Bob Zohner, Brad Smith, Bill O’Boyle, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick, Mike McCoy, and John Harbaugh) who believed in me! To my rbs coaches (coach skiles, coach reiners, Jimmy Raye, A Lynn, Ivan, Ollie, Ridge, and Thomas) thanks for putting up with me. Thanks to all my teammates from high school till now. Without you guys I never would’ve become who I was as a player. To all my olinemen, you guys deserve the credit for anything that I received credit for. I thank you for helping make my career. To all the trainers, team docs, strength coaches, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, body gurus thanks for making sure I was on the field. To all the people who made my life easier at the facility (ops, pr, equipment staff, cafe workers, custodians) thanks and your work doesn’t go unnoticed. And how could i forget all my fans?! You’re the best and have always felt the love and support! I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but know that I’m thankful for everything everyone has done on my journey.

A post shared by Danny Woodhead (@teamwoody39) on

Thursday, it was reported the Patriots reached out to Woodhead for a possible reunion. 

The last two seasons have been challenging for him, as he dealt with season-ending injuries in both 2016 with the Chargers and 2017 with the Ravens.

Woodhead finishes his career with 2,238 yards rushing, 2,698 yards receiving, 15 rushing touchdowns and 17 receiving touchdowns.