On the third day, he spoke again.
Brandon LaFell agreed to speak with reporters Friday after his third consecutive practice with the Patriots this season. The wide receiver has been unable to take part in practice for the past several months while nursing an injured foot. As a result, the normally talkative LaFell has been silent until now.
"It's been a long wait, man. I've just been rehabbing and lifting weights. I'm tired of [it], ready to get back to football," he began.
LaFell was placed on the PUP list at the start of the regular season, meaning he was guaranteed to miss at least the first six weeks, but he is eligible to play as soon as this Sunday versus the New York Jets.
"That's up to Bill," he responded when that question was posed directly. "All I'm doing this week is practice and prepare myself like I'm going to play this week."
For the past couple of weeks, LaFell has been acting like a player who's on the verge of a full-time comeback. He accompanied his teammates on the road in Dallas and Indianapolis and went through what would be a normal pre-game routine of attending meetings, watching film, and doing individual warmups on the field in shorts and a t-shirt. LaFell maintained that he's far beyond the point of being psychologically healed of his injury. The receiver candidly admitted he knew he wouldn't be ready for the season opener against Pittsburgh, but that now he doesn't think twice about running, jumping, cutting, or doing anything else on the football field. He had no setbacks, he revealed, and felt ready to go at about Week 3 or 4.
"It's been feeling great," he continued, adding that the extended time on the sideline was difficult for him. He's never missed more than a month of football, and that was as a freshman in college when he broke several ribs.
"Yeah it was tough. I always feel like if I can go out there and run around a little bit, I can play, but it was Bill's decision. He wanted me back 100-percent [healthy] before I'm back on the field. I had to sit and wait.
"It was really tough, especially when you come in here on Monday and watch the game and see Tom throwing the ball 40, 50 times and you're like, 'If he's throwing 40 or 50 times, I'd at least have caught eight or nine of those things.' But I was happy to see my other guys around here make plays."
One aspect of the game he didn't miss?
"I'm not mad I didn't have any camp, man. I hate training camp," LaFell laughed.
"I'm glad I didn't have to go through that, but going out there getting into football shape, getting pressed off the line every snap, getting banged up, getting off the ground, blocking, that's going to take a little while to get used to, but I don't think it will take me that long."
Whenever LaFell comes back, the Patriots have to make room for him on the active roster. It appears as if they've taken a step in that direction after releasing DL Khyri Thornton last night. And LaFell may have inadvertently revealed his status for Sunday when asked about facing his former teammate, CB Darrelle Revis.
"It wouldn't be helpful to come back against Revis any week," he grinned. "That guy is unbelievable. He's one of the best in the game. I practiced against this guy a lot last year. Even when I was healthy, it was tough to go against him. It's going to be a battle. He knows my game, I know his game, he knows a lot of our players, but we'll go out there and compete."
Rookie guard Shaq Mason was back at practice after missing the past two days with a right knee injury. Mason was wearing a brace and his damaged joint was heavily wrapped underneath it.
DE Jabaal Sheard (ankle), OL Marcus Cannon (toe), and LB Rufus Johnson (unspecified illness) were the only three players not able to take part. They've been on the shelf all week.
Two players added to the injury list yesterday – wide receiver Keshawn Martin and running back Brandon Bolden – both suited up despite their hamstring injuries.