It's been a little more than 24 hours since we learned of the trade of Jamie Collins to Cleveland. So, of course, most Patriots and NFL observers are still digesting the news and trying to make sense of it.
That includes Collins' former teammates in the New England locker room.
Some of the responses we heard today were quite candid.
"Just was shocked, that's all. Just shocked," admitted cornerback Malcolm Butler when he recalled getting the news on Halloween.
Others, like seasoned veteran defensive end Rob Ninkovich, were more philosophical about it.
"I've played 11 years in the NFL. I know how this business is. I know that it is a business and it's a performance business and you have to perform. Maybe for the younger guys, it's more of a shock," he acknowledged, "but for me, I've seen a lot of things happen in my career. They've happened to me. You have to focus on what you can control."
"Trades," remarked defensive end Jabaal Sheard, "are obviously [made] upstairs, and that's business. It's football. You never know."
Of course, it's a football decision, but it also has personal repercussions, both for Collins and his erstwhile teammates.
"Off the field, he's a good dude," Sheard added.
"Jamie's a great guy, on and off the field," echoed rookie linebacker Elandon Roberts, who took Collins' starting spot in the lineup two days ago against Buffalo. "That's all really I can say. He was a great teammate."
Butler maintained he would miss "everything" about Collins, but quickly emphasized, "He's not here anymore. Next man up. Got to keep moving forward."
And that was a prevailing sentiment among the Patriots on Tuesday. Even with an upcoming weekend off before the Patriots host the Seahawks in Week 10, there's no time to dwell on Collins' departure. Not with all that needs to be done to rectify what has been an inconsistent defense overall through the first eight games.
"When you lose a teammate," Ninkovich continued, "it's definitely different and it's a change that could catch you off-guard, but we still have a lot of games here to go. You can't let what you can't control affect how you play. For me, it's to continue to focus on myself and get better. There's a lot of room for improvement.
"I'm focused on getting through this bye week here and preparing to play better in the next eight games. We have to make more plays. I have to make more plays. That's the way it needs to be."
Roberts insisted that he feels "no pressure" to step into the Pro Bowl cleats of Collins.
"If the team needs me to do more, I'm going to do more. Whatever we need to do to take our team to the next level, I'm willing to do.
"I've got a long way to go," Roberts pointed out. "Right now, I'm just focused on getting ready for Seattle."
It wasn't all serious business in the Patriots locker room Tuesday.
When media entered the room, they quickly converged around wide receiver Julian Edelman's locker, where he was sitting with head phones on… or at least, they thought it was Edelman.
He was wearing his signature red skull cap, yellow Kent State t-shirt, and blue sweatpants, but when he stood up, it was evident that this wasn't Edelman. What gave it away was the sleeve of tattoos down both of his arms.
Turns out, defensive end Chris Long had gotten a life-like Edelman mask made for Halloween hijinks, and his ruse completely fooled many in the media at first. But even once the stunt was exposed, Long kept it up by pretending to answer questions on the record as Edelman.
After a while, Edel – er, Long told reporters, "No more questions, bruh," in a spot-on Edelman voice. At this point, the actual Edelman turned up at his locker and couldn't help laughing at the well-executed prank.
With the bye week approaching, New England took advantage of the schedule to conduct a rare Tuesday practice. Everyone, including running back Dion Lewis, was on the field. However, there's still no sign of Lewis' PUP teammate, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
Meanwhile, there were two new practice squad players on the field. Tight end Austin Traylor, a Wisconsin product, was wearing jersey number 81. Offensive lineman Chase Farris, who was on the squad earlier this season, was back in his number 66 jersey. The club had two spots available after promoting RB Tyler Gaffney over the weekend and losing RB Bishop Sankey to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots will be back on the practice field Wednesday.