He wanted to make clear that he wasn't routinely sent home in high school, but it did happen a time or two.
And that was the last time it happened to Derrick Burgess… until this past Wednesday.
The linebacker was one of the four Patriots – along with WR and co-captain Randy Mossand fellow LBs Adalius Thomasand Gary Guyton– sent home by head coach Bill Belichickafter arriving late to the team's 8 a.m. meeting. That morning's snowstorm may have been to blame, but Burgess assumed full responsibility when reporters asked if he was shocked by the move.
"Shocked is a word you could use," he responded, "but I'm more disappointed in myself. The hour that I left before wasn't enough time. Next time I'll leave an hour and a half."
Compared with Thomas' comments to reporters yesterday, there appeared to be less of an edge to Burgess' answers today.
"Couldn't be upset," he maintained, "I was too disappointed. What is there to say? I was late. My disappointment was in me. I lead by being an example. Who else can I put it on? So, I have to be disappointed in myself."
When Thomas spoke to reporters on Thursday, he revealed that he was less than 10 minutes late. Burgess, however, gave no such specifics.
"It was late. It doesn't matter. Late is late," he insisted.
Burgess also refused to say whether he felt Belichick was sending a message by sending him and his three teammates home.
"I don't know, you have to ask Bill that. I don't know what he was thinking, but that's him. He's the coach."
Despite missing what's normally the most important day of preparation in an NFL work week, Burgess said he's "very prepared" for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. He also addressed what's become a recurring problem for New England – the defense's inability to hold onto leads and shut teams down at the most crucial moments.
Burgess was asked if he could pinpoint what's wrong.
"I can't say it's one thing, it's a lot of things. We have to communicate, get pressure on the quarterback … we have one of those games, we'll be all right."
From a personal standpoint, Burgess, a former Pro Bowler who once led the NFL in sacks in a season, hasn't quite had the impact that many observers expected he'd have when he arrived in New England in August. But that's not from a lack of effort, he said.
"I'm working. Everyday I come here, put on my hard hat …" he smiled and added with a laugh, "when I ain't late."
Brady back at practice
QB Tom Brady, who missed the past two days of practice, was back on the field today with his teammates.
Brady has been listed on the injury report this week with shoulder, finger, and rib issues. He also hasn't had much sleep since his wife gave birth to their first child together late Tuesday night.
At his daily press briefing, Belichick was asked if he had any concerns about his quarterback's availability for the Panthers game. The coach, as you might expect, wouldn't give any indication one way or the other.
Friday practice notes
The final padded session of the week took place outside on the Gillette Stadium game field in seasonably frigid, but sunny conditions.
The player wore shells and sweat pants for the workout.
Every player except rookies Myron Pryor(chest) and Darius Butler(not injury related) was in attendance.