Rookie wideout Chad Jackson spoke to the media in the locker room today. Plagued by a hamstring injury since before training camp, Jackson said he feels he's at "90 percent" physically. He hopes the bye week will help his recovery, and said he plans to "rest up a little bit and get my legs under me. Hopefully after that bye weekend I'll be able to come back in feeling a little bit better."
He expressed feelings of annoyance with the persistence of the injury, saying, "During my injury it was frustrating, because you want to go out there and be out there and help the team and it's just hard because you can't do it. Right now, I'm just enjoying things. I'm starting to practice on a consistent basis and going out there and helping the team. So that's what I'm trying to do."
Jackson said it's been especially frustrating because everyone else in the passing game has been working on consistency, but he's been sidelined for much of the season.
"It's hard, because [Tom] Brady wants us to be on the same page," said Jackson. "He's got new receivers coming in and he wants everybody to do well. We got the running attack going, he just wants to get the passing game going also."
He also spoke to speculation that he's been having trouble learning the playbook.
"I'm fine with the offense right now, I have no problems with it," said Jackson. "They just keep adding on stuff and I keep picking it up."
He admitted that receivers need a thorough knowledge of the plays in order to perform well, since the game speed is different in the NFL.
"It's just different, because everything's moving so fast," he explained. "You can't go out there and think at the same time. You've just got to go out there and know what you're doing. That's what I'm picking up right now, just making sure I know everything before I go out there and get on the field, because everything's moving so fast you don't want to mess up."
Although he isn't content with the passing game or his injury-impaired role in it, he feels it's coming along.
"There's a lot to work on," Jackson said. "We've got a lot to work on with me also and a lot to work on with the other receivers also at the same time. But we're meeting extra, getting on the same page with the receivers and the quarterback. We're feeling pretty good about it."
Jackson was only able to practice three times during training camp. He's been listed as 'Questionable' in the injury reports all season long, and has missed portions of practice every week.
Asked if he felt like he was still in training camp, since he's missed so much time on the field, Jackson said he doesn't.
"I'm just going out there just trying to get better every day," he said. "That's all I'm doing right now."
Jackson was able to play against the Jets and against the Bengals, but has only recorded four receptions for 51 yards and a 10-yard carry on a reverse play. He caught a touchdown pass from Brady against the Jets, and spoke about that game, as well.
"I felt pretty good that game," said Jackson. "I was doing good. It was my breakout game. Hopefully I can have another one of those and continue to help the team."
Asked how far he felt from being able to help the team like that consistently, Jackson responded, "I don't know right now. I feel pretty good. I'm just waiting to get out there and get back on the field as much as I can. When they give me the opportunity, I'll go out there and make plays and help the team."
His advice to future rookie receivers?
"Don't get hurt."
Jackson attended college at the University of Florida where he was a semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (given to the top receiver) last season. He caught 120 passes for 1,586 yards (13.2 avg) and 16 touchdowns and rushed 17 times for 90 yards (5.3 avg) and two touchdowns during his three-year career at Florida.
Guffaws from Gaffney
Newly acquired wide receiver Jabar Gaffney had the media in stitches when he explained that his wife, Terin, was as excited to hear he'll be playing with Tom Brady as he was.
"It's going to be great," said Gaffney before dropping the bomb. "He's actually my wife's favorite quarterback."
He drew more laughs, saying, "She just likes [Brady]. She's always liked him. I don't know if his looks got anything to do with it. It better be his playing."
Gaffney said one reason he's so excited to play for the Patriots is that the starting receivers aren't set in stone, yet.
"That's one of the reasons I wanted to come here anyway, just for the passing game and playing with a guy like Tom Brady, I mean you have to love it."
He finished out a four-year contract with the Texans, where he had a career-high 55 receptions last season before signing with the Eagles this offseason. Gaffney said he wasn't certain why the Eagles released him during their final preseason roster cut downs in the beginning of September. He said he's been working out and has stayed in shape since being released.
"I don't know what really happened. I know I was out there giving it my all. [The Eagles] just sat me down for a little bit.
"It's easy to look back now, but I had no regrets in going up there. I learned a lot up there. I learned the West Coast offense up there."
The Patriots winning attitude has him excited. "Losing isn't even brought up around here. It just doesn't happen," said Gaffney. "It's not accepted. In Houston was a young team, going through things. Everybody didn't have the same mindset as opposed to a team like this."
Surprisingly, Gaffney said the Patriots were the only team to try him out since his release.
"It's been a great feeling around here," he said. "Everybody's up-beat. In the bye week, winning record, doing great in the division. It's a good feeling around here."
Unlike the other Patriots players, Gaffney said he'll be at Gillette Stadium during the whole bye week. He hopes to play against the Bills after the bye.
"I'll be around. I have to learn the offense," he said. "These guys, they pretty much know what's going on. I have to stick around and get ready. I'll definitely take advantage of this bye week. It's almost like a little training camp situation for me. I got two weeks to get ready to play."
Gaffney is now one of three wideouts on the Patriots roster that went to college at Florida. He never played with Chad Jackson, but he and Reche Caldwellplayed together and were both picked up in the second round of the 2002 draft. He said he and Caldwell have been friends for a while and have kept in touch.
"It's great to have these guys up here with me and kind of a familiar setting," he said of the other Florida alums.
Jackson said he looked up to Gaffney and Caldwell during his time at Florida, calling Gaffney, "a great receiver."
Gaffney said his strength is his work ethic, something he and Caldwell have in common.
"We're similar in the fact that we're both going to do whatever it takes for us to win," said Gaffney. "We want to win and that's No. 1. So we're going to go out there and be blocking, running routes, catching passes. That's what we're going to do."
The difference between the two receivers? Gaffney offered one last laugh.
"I think I look better."
The Patriots held practice today, wearing shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. The media had access to stretching and a set of drills. The only players not at practice were Richard Seymour and Nick Kaczur. They'll practice again tomorrow before getting a long bye-weekend vacation. … Reebok held an event at the Dana Farber Field House today. Bengals wideout Chad Johnson was a special guest at the event, where he continued to rib the Patriots, suggesting that they shut him down in the game by cheating.