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Notes: Post-loss, Patriots prepare for unfamiliar foe

At 7-2, the Patriots are still in control in the AFC East and well-positioned for the postseason, but uncharacteristically, they're coming off their second home defeat this season.

A road trip might just be what the doctor ordered.

"It's fun to travel as a team, too," defensive end Chris Long pointed out. "It gives us an opportunity to spend some more time together and really mesh more."

Luckily, they get to travel about as far away as they can get from Foxborough this weekend. Sunday's game at San Francisco will mark New England's first visit to the 49ers new home, Levi's Stadium, just south of the city in Santa Clara.

First, though, they must put the last-second loss to Seattle behind them.

"It's not fun, it's not cool. We've got to find a way to play better," wide receiver Danny Amendola acknowledged.

"Just got to move on. Look at the film, correct some of the mistakes," declared defensive end Rob Ninkovich. "Right now, all three phases have to continue to improve and understand that we have a lot more football left to play. It starts today, going out there on the practice field, running around, and trying to prepare well. Each day's a new day."

Do the Patriots feel they have something to prove after the way they let the Seahawks come to town and put up 31 points?

"If we'd have played well, we'd still have something to prove," maintained Long. "Every week, we have something to prove. If you have a mindset any different in this league, you're going to get embarrassed because there are good teams you have to play every week. San Francisco certainly has that."

The 1-8 Niners haven't exactly started out the way head coach Chip Kelly wanted to in his first year at the helm, but the Patriots know all too well how dangerous Kelly's clubs can be. Last December, when Kelly's lowly Philadelphia Eagles visited Gillette Stadium, they dealt a severe blow, coming back from a 14-point deficit to beat Bill Belichick's playoff-bound Patriots.

Belichick made certain to mention this to reporters Wednesday in his opening remarks, and his players appear to have taken notice.

 "Don't let their record fool you," wide receiver Julian Edelman warned. "It's an unfamiliar team. We don't really know, or play that often. We've got to learn these guys and take advantage of this week of practice."

They might not face each other often, but Ninkovich recalls clearly when San Francisco visited Foxborough four years ago and quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 41-34 win similar to Seattle's most recent victory at Gillette.

"Yeah, a guy that can move well, really strong arm to get the ball down the field. Very elusive, and deceptively fast. He's got a really long stride."

Long is certainly familiar with this week's opponent, having faced them numerous times in his career when he played for the Rams in the NFC West. However, he downplayed his role in helping his Patriots teammates prepare for the Niners.

"Listen, we've got great coaches. They do a good job getting us ready for the game," he insisted. "It's a new challenge, have to turn the page quickly. Obviously, long road trip this week."

Kickoff is at 4:25 Eastern, meaning, with the three-hour Pacific time zone difference, it will be nearly like a normal 1 o'clock start for New England.

"I've always thought we gain a couple hours of sleep, so, we wake up on the West Coast and we're juiced," Amendola observed. "I've always found it fun going west. It's harder to go from west to east."

It wasn't for Seattle, a reporter noted.

"You're right," Amendola grinned. "They played better than we did."

Welcome home

For a pair of high-profile Patriots, this week's game is a homecoming contest. Quarterback Tom Brady grew up in nearby San Matteo, while Edelman hails from Redwood City, both south of San Francisco.

"Get to go home and play the San Francisco 49ers, a team I grew up loving… It's going to be pretty exciting. The new place is no Candlestick [Park]," Edelman joked, in reference to the 49ers' dilapidated former building, "but it'll be pretty fun to go back and get to play in front of some friends and family."

Edelman admitted that he's getting more requests than normal for tickets to this game. Meanwhile, Brady has never faced the 49ers in his hometown. The last time the Patriots played in San Francisco was 2008, when Brady was on injured reserve. Amendola joked that he won't be upset if Brady's parents don't invite him over for dinner this weekend.

"Maybe in the offseason, we'll go back," he suggested with a smile.

Practice Report

In the last game, Brady took a hard hit to the lower leg from Seattle safety Kam Chancellor, but was on the practice field with the rest of his teammates Wednesday. All except tight end/co-captain Rob Gronkowski, that is. The veteran absorbed a devastating hit to the chest from Seahawks safety Earl Thomas this past Sunday night, yet continued to play despite suffering an obvious injury of some sort.

Meanwhile, Gronkowski's youngest brother, Glenn, a fullback, has been re-signed to the practice squad for the third time this season. He was back on the field Wednesday in the number 47 jersey he was assigned the previous two times.

Elsewhere on the field, rookie QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb) was spotted yet again taking part in the team stretching period at the start of practice, but he did so without a helmet. So, it does not appear that he is yet ready to begin practicing fully again. Brissett is currently on injured reserve, but NFL teams are allowed to activate one player from their IR lists after an extended period. It's possible the Patriots could make such a move with Brissett in the coming days or weeks. 

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