Unlike his loquacious teammate, Joey Porter, Dolphins running backRonnie Brownis a bit more respectful of the Patriots – at least in his public comments.
For instance, when asked how confident he was that his Miami team could beat New England this Sunday, Brown offered this response.
"If you think about it, how many teams have beaten Bill Belichicktwice in a season? That's another goal in itself. We obviously know what's at stake and we've got a must-win game for us."
Part of what made the Dolphins' Week-3 win over the Pats possible was Miami's implementation of a predominantly college-run play: the Wildcat formation. With Brown and fellow back Ricky Williams in the backfield taking the direct snap from center, New England's defense was utterly caught off guard in their first encounter this season.
"I think it played in," Brown said of the element of surprise, "but at the same time you still have to go in and execute the plays no matter what you're running. Obviously for them to see the package and the lineup, it was a little different for them, but at the same time we still have to execute, people have to make their blocks. It may have played a factor, but at the same time it came down to technique and fundamentals also."
At his daily press conference, Belichick said that his team will be ready for the Wildcat this time around, but it won't be the sole focus of their preparations.
"The way they use it they kind of get in and out of it," Belichick explained. "They are in it for a play or two and then they are out of it. So, we will kind of practice it that way because that is what we are going to have to do. We are going to have to be playing our regular stuff and then they are going to jump into that and then they are going to jump out of it, so we won't be able to just sit there and look at it.
"At least that's the way they have done it the last six or seven games. We will have to be ready for them to move in and out of it like they did. Sometimes it's in the red area, sometimes it's on third down, sometimes it is on early downs, so we will mix it into practice more on that basis."
LB Pierre Woods, subbing for the injured Adalius Thomasat outside linebacker, was a popular player among the media this morning.
"I'm doing the same," he replied when asked if he is doing anything differently now that he's a starter. "Just working hard, go out there and try to execute. For the most part it's all the same stuff. When you practice here you learn from the veterans what they do and you try to emulate what they do. That's what the players expect from you."
He also showed a sense of humor about this week's big game when a reporter suggested that the match-up with Miami had a playoff feel.
"Nah...it's not January yet so you can't say that," Woods joked. "It's a division game and it's a big game and we'll just go out and do our best."
Welker likes Tech's stock
As usual, there was a huge gathering of media around WR Wes Welker'slocker today. But after one question, there was an unusual silence. So Welker took it upon himself to jump-start the next line of questioning.
"No questions about my hat or anything?" he prodded. The Texas Tech grad was sporting a bright red Under Armour skull cap with the Red Raiders logo emblazoned on the front. His alma mater, currently ranked second in the BCS standings, faces a huge Big 12 battle at BCS number 5 Oklahoma this Saturday night.
"It's going to be a tough game for us, going into Norman," Welker humbly predicted. "We're excited, all the fans are excited. I've been talking to people back in Oklahoma and Texas. They're really excited. We've got to bring our best game to be able to match up against them. They're playing some pretty good ball right now."
Welker was then asked which game, his own or Texas Tech's, was more important to him, which brought laughs to the assembly, Welker included.
"That goes without saying. I definitely have to take care of my end. I'm just a [Texas Tech] fan now. Just a proud alum."
Wednesday locker room/practice notebook
With high temps in the upper 30s here in New England, the Pats again practiced indoors today to prepare for the warm weather expected in South Florida this weekend. The team practiced in helmets and shells (smaller, softer shoulder pads).
RB LaMont Jordan, who has missed the last several games with a calf injury, was again at his locker for a second straight day. However, he was not present during the media portion of practice later in the day.
On a positive note, DL Richard Seymourreturned to practice after missing yesterday's session. But rookie corner Jonathan Wilhite, who practiced Tuesday, was absent today at the start because of the flu. Also absent were LBs Eric Alexander and LB *Adalius Thomas.