For once, there were reporters and photographers spilling into Tom Brady'slocker, but they weren't there to talk to him. It was Brady's next-door neighbor in the Patriots locker room they were interested in.
Ever since Pro Bowl wide receiver Wes Welkercrumbled to the turf in Houston last Sunday, rookie Julian Edelman– the college QB turned NFL wideout – has picked up the slack. He'll be asked to do so this weekend in the most important game of his football career to date: New England's Wild Card Playoff Game against the Baltimore Ravens.
But Edelman insists that this week has been no different than any other in his first NFL season, which include both offensive and special teams meetings with coach Scott O'Brien.
"It's been like every other week. I've been preparing, trying not to hype it up too much, just going out there trying to get better every day. I really haven't prepared any differently. I've gone in every morning, at breakfast, met with Scotty O, did my hot tub, and prepared like it was any other week.
"Anytime you over-hype something, you can become jacked up in the head," Edelman reasoned. "So, I came in, read the sign that said, 'Do your job,' and tried to do my job."
At the same time, the rookie realizes how much is being asked of him. After speaking with Welker, however, Edelman believes he's approaching the task with the proper frame of mind.
"Wes Welker … he's the heart and soul of this team. We're going to miss him a lot. I just have to try to go out there and give it my all.
"I talked to Wes, told him that my prayers and thoughts are with him, and … to have a fast recovery," Edelman added. "He gave me some words of wisdom. We had a nice little conversation. He just said, 'Do your job. Don't try to improvise and you'll be fine.'"
He admitted that it's been a bit surreal, how his first year in the NFL has unfolded, but that he can't afford to focus on that at the moment.
"I don't really have time to think about that, because if I think about that, I'm not thinking about the right things. I have to go out there and think about the Ravens and their defenses and their schematics. We'll think about that after the season.
Friday practice/locker room notebook
Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankinstold reporters how much he appreciates having at least one home game in the playoffs.
"It's always nice to have the crowd on your side. The offense has it quiet and it gets loud for the defense. That's always an advantage. You're comfortable with your surroundings, so, it's always nice to play at home. Hopefully, we can keep that going."
Meanwhile, defensive lineman Jarvis Greenthat "it's very, very special" just to be back in the NFL's post-season after not having that opportunity a year ago.
"Actually, at this time, a lot of guys are saying their goodbyes. It's a privilege and an honor to be in the playoffs. Everybody comes in for training camp, looking forward to the chance to get in the playoffs. It's a special time. Everybody in the locker room knows this is going to be tough, but we're just getting ready for Sunday."
As has been the case all week, OL Dan Connolly, who injured an ankle against Houston, was the only Patriot who didn't practice because of an injury. WR Randy Mossdid not take part today, but for non-injury related reasons, according to the team's practice participation report.
For the third straight day, the Patriots worked out on the Gillette Stadium game surface, with players wearing helmets, shells, and sweats. For some unknown reason, some of the players on defense swapped jerseys for the Friday session. Safey James Sanderswore cornerback Leigh Bodden'snumber 23, while Bodden donned Sanders' 36. And LB Adalius Thomaspeeled on safety Brandon McGowan'snumber 30.