It's remarkable just how healthy the Patriots are this late in the NFL season. With just a week to go (and counting) before Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, New England suited up all of its active roster and practice squad players for the team's fourth and final practice of the penultimate week.
The AFC champs are scheduled to fly out on Monday, just before a major Nor'easter is forecast to hit southern New England and dump a foot or more of snow on the region. Their opponents, the NFC champion and reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, arrive late Sunday.
After a good stretch of practices here in Foxborough, though, the Patriots seem eager to get down to business in the desert.
"Absolutely! It's going to be a great experience being out in Arizona and playing in the Super Bowl," remarked fullback James Develin, who's making his first appearance in a Super Bowl. "It's going to be awesome. I'm definitely anxious to get out there."
"Definitely anxious to get out there and feel your surroundings, see what you're going to be working with that week as far as the facility, meeting rooms," echoed wide receiver Julian Edelman, a veteran of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis three years ago.
"Don't have to worry about anything else. Definitely anxious to start the preparing process out there. It'll be nice to be in some 70-degree weather and try to win the last game.
Running back Shane Vereen was a rookie the last time the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, but an injury kept him out of the lineup.
"Absolutely, I'm anxious, excited… you name it, it's probably going through my body right now," he said of the forthcoming opportunity. "But it's all fun, and this is what you should be feeling this time of year."
The players also expressed satisfaction with the week of work they put in here in Foxborough, despite the other events swirling around the team these past several days.
"Feel good," Edelman declared. "Practice has had a high tempo. Guys are focused. We still have a long way to go. We still have a few days out in Arizona to prepare, so, we're going to try to take advantage of that."
"They've been good. We got some things done," Vereen noted. "A lot of guys are on the same page, we're focused, headed in the right direction, but we still have another week to go. Seven days till the game and seven days to prepare."
"Preparation is key when it comes to any football game," added Develin. "One of this magnitude magnifies how important preparation is. The past week has been greatly valuable for all our preparation. It gave us time to practice more plays and watch more tape of Seattle. Obviously it's always nice having the comforts of home, but we'll go out to Arizona and do the same thing.
"I think our team's really gone to work and put their hard hats on and done what we had to do."
There was a noticeable buzz in the locker room just before practice as players scurried around to get dressed for the workout, but also pack their equipment bags for the Super Bowl trip.
"I was really excited last time," recalled Edelman. "I'm excited this time. Probably a little more focused this time as far as knowing what I have to do out there, the experience… being at [Super Bowl XLVI] has definitely helped. I'm a little more familiar with what you got going on when you're there, being able to ignore a bunch of the distractions. It really is a business trip for us. Looking forward to that."
For those who'll be snowbound in New England this coming week, Develin offered this final thought.
"I just hope everyone stays safe," he smiled, "and I'm definitely going to enjoy that weather out in Arizona."