James White

What they're saying: Patriots explain how they deal with the 'hype and ridiculous [expletive]'

What they're saying: Patriots explain how they deal with the 'hype and ridiculous [expletive]'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Through three episodes of the Facebook project "Tom vs. Time" that tracks Tom Brady's work and life off the field, one of the more fascinating scenes involves Brady picking through thick binders filled with notes and plans from individual seasons. Inside the 2016 binder, he pulled a sheet of paper from the point last season when the Patriots were preparing to play the Falcons in the Super Bowl.

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Rodney Harrison, Dan Patrick, and Cris Collinsworth break down match-ups to look for on Sunday

"This is a lot of stuff that [Bill] Belichick talks about in team meetings that I write down," Brady told the camera. "These are kind of his themes. I'll read you some of them: 'Prepare and play well. The Super Bowl environment is all about hype and ridiculous bull**** that goes on.' "

He would know. He's been through enough of these.

The media crush is obviously different during Super Bowl week. Players are aware of it. The vast majority know how to handle it. Still, Patriots were asked on Tuesday how they deal with the chaotic media availability sessions and all the attention.

MORE OF WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Eagles weigh in: Belichick-or-Brady?

"You just kind of tune it out," James White said. "You come in here to win a football game. There's all this hype around this game. Biggest game of the year and whatnot. But we can't overhype it. It's still football at the end of the day. You want to go out and put your best foot forward, have fun, and just do what you've been doing all year long."

Many Patriots continue to live by the credo "ignore the noise," and Nate Solder, who is headed to his fourth Super Bowl, counts himself among those.

"That was established by the coaches and things, but that's helped me certainly because all this other stuff, it's just white noise," Solder said. "It's just gonna take away from the true reason that we're here, and that's to win a game."

MORE PATRIOTS: Disobeying the sitter to watch Brady

"We deal with media all week during the regular week," added David Andrews. "It's not like something we deal with once a year at this time of year. But everything now is on a bigger scale. The game is obviously on a bigger scale. There's more production, things like that. We just kind of handle that. Move forward. It's gonna be good to get back here, rolling, and preparing for Philly."

The Patriots will have their first practice of the week on Wednesday. They'll do their best to fall into their routine, as they have for the first few days of their stay here, despite living in a hotel attached to a gargantuan mall.

"You can still stick to your routine," White said. "I think our staff does a great job of trying to get everything we have at our facility at the hotel so you can do the same exact things you've done before."

Here are some of the other things the Patriots were saying on Tuesday . . .

Brady on "centering himself" and meditation: "It can be challenging. Obviously my mind races a lot. There are a lot of things that I'm thinking about. For me, I've learned the car ride home is a great
time, 30 minutes of time, where I can listen to music and find a good space for me to be in for the day. Whether that's driving into work in the morning, or I can think about things I need to do, I want to do. And leaving practice, after you've expended a lot of energy, to find a good balance to deal with things at home."

Brady on the potential of getting hit by former teammate Chris Long: "I hope he doesn't hit me too hard if he gets a shot. Hopefully he respects his elders a little bit out there . . . I really enjoyed my
time with Chris. He's a helluva player and he made huge plays for us last year. He's made some great plays for the Eagles this year. They have a dominant pass rush on both edges, right up the middle, and he's a big part of that. He's a great leader, practices his butt off, great enthusiasm. I have a ton of respect for him."

Kyle Van Noy on how comforting it is to know Patriots safeties are backing him up: "It's nice. [Patrick] Chung is a Swiss Army knife. [Duron Harmon] is the sniper in the back. And [Devin McCourty] is the clean-up. I would hope no one takes them for granted because all three are phenomenal players. They deserve a lot of credit for the success of the Patriots defense of late, and they deserve a lot of credit."


Setting himself up: Dion Lewis finishing off contract year with a flourish


Setting himself up: Dion Lewis finishing off contract year with a flourish

FOXBORO -- Dion Lewis has impeccable timing. And not just because he seems to know when to bounce a run to the outside or when to hesitate to allow blockers to clear paths for him on screens. 

The 27-year-old is in a contract year and he's now putting the finishing touches on his best professional season. He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday for his career-high 129 yards rushing on 24 attempts, 24 yards receiving on five catches and two touchdowns against the Bills.


Add that honor to a list of accomplishments in 2017 -- including a Special Teams Player of the Week Award for his kick-return touchdown in Week 10 -- for the diminutive back who has shown he has a variety of tricks up his sleeve to avoid would-be tacklers. On one snap, he may go to a stiff-arm in the open field. On the next, he may spin away from a hit or slide by with a subtle juke.

Regardless of the method, Lewis (5.2 yards per carry) has consistently come up with positive plays. Despite having his workload limited through the first month of the season, when he lost touches to Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and James White, he's seized the role of lead back and now has it in a chokehold.

Over the last 13 weeks, Lewis is third in the NFL in total yards (1,403) behind only Todd Gurley (1,712) and Le'Veon Bell (1,710). He's also fourth in the league in yards after contact among running backs, picking up an average of an extra 3.4 yards per carry, behind only Kenyan Drake, Alvin Kamara and LeGarrette Blount.

"He's a durable kid," Bill Belichick said Wednesday. "He's tough. He takes some hits, but he's been very durable. He's tough. He gives out some punishment, too. He works hard."

Lewis has been durable this year, playing in all 15 games, but that hasn't been the case over the course of his career. He tore his ACL in 2015, ending his first eye-popping season with the Patriots. Before the start of the following season he suffered a fractured patella. He broke his leg before the start of the 2013 season when he was with the Browns, and since entering the NFL in 2011 he's played in 53 of a possible 96 regular-season games. 

The question now is what does the future hold for Lewis?

He'll be 28 years old early next season. And he has a length history of injuries. But a healthy Lewis might be the second-best running back on the free-agent market this upcoming offseason. That list includes Bell, Blount, Carlos Hyde, Jerick McKinnon, Isaiah Crowell, Alfred Morris and Jeremy Hill. Burkhead is also slated to become a free agent in March. 

Falcons back Devonta Freeman, 25, set the market for running backs last offseason when he got a five-year, $41.2 million deal with $17.3 million guaranteed. Lewis won't see that kind of cash, but he could potentially slide in closer to what Latavius Murray, 26, got from the Vikings: Three years and $15 million, with $3.4 million guaranteed.

Another contractual comparable could be what the Patriots gave White last offseason. The 25-year-old received a three-year, $12 million deal with $4.7 guaranteed. Lewis is the more dynamic of the two players, but perhaps with Lewis' age and injury history the Patriots could argue their values are similar. Seems reasonable. What happens with Burkhead -- who has not been durable this season, but, like Lewis, is considered an all-purpose back -- could also impact how the Patriots view Lewis' future in New England.

If he re-signs, Lewis would offer the Patriots versatility, some unpredictablility in the backfield, a built-in understanding of the offense, and a weapon Tom Brady trusts. Whether or not they'd be willing to pay for that remains to be seen. But after the season Lewis has had, someone will.


Pats-Bills inactives: Hogan, White, Van Noy all out


Pats-Bills inactives: Hogan, White, Van Noy all out

FOXBORO -- Nate Solder was a late addition to the Patriots injury report, listed as questionable with an illness on Saturday night, but he'll be in uniform against the Bills on Christmas Eve. 

With Solder expected to man the left edge, look for the Patriots to go with LaAdrian Waddle on the right side and Cameron Fleming to serve as the swing tackle. The Patriots regulars on the interior offensive line, which helped open up room for backs to run for nearly 200 yards the last time these two teams met, are healthy and ready to go. 

Chris Hogan will miss his second consecutive week with a shoulder injury after playing a starter's workload in Miami two weeks ago. That could mean more action for Kenny Britt, who will be in uniform for the second time after signing with the Patriots less than two weeks ago. 

The Patriots will also be forced to go without sub back James White and multi-purpose back Rex Burkhead, meaning the rotation of runners will be short against Buffalo's run defense. Mike Gillislee -- a healthy scratch since the bye week -- will be in uniform and ready to go. He could be a factor on first down and by the goal line. How the Patriots use Dion Lewis will be fascinating. He's been their best runner this season, but the team may want to manage him somewhat if possible to ensure that he's ready for postseason play. Will he serve as a sub back? Will he remain heavily used on first down? We'll see. 

Without Kyle Van Noy for the third consecutive week., New England's front seven will have its hands full. They were soft on the edges in Orchard Park in Week 13 and will need help from Trey Flowers (who did not play in the first meeting between these clubs), Deatrich Wise and Eric Lee against LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. 

DL Alan Branch
RB Rex Burkhead
OL Cole Croston
WR Chris Hogan
LB Trevor Reilly
LB Kyle Van Noy
RB James White

CB Breon Borders
TE EJ Gaines
WR Andre Holmes
OT Conor McDermott
OF John Miller
WR Brandon Reilly
TE Logan Thomas