Bill Belichick is fond of reminding us that "for every long week, there's a short week" in the NFL. The Patriots find themselves in the former category this week because of last week's lopsided Thursday night win over the Houston Texans here at Gillette Stadium.
Following that victory, Belichick's team enjoyed a full weekend off from work to recuperate, and now they have the advantage of some extra time to prepare for their next opponent.
"We're excited to get to work this week," asserted WR Danny Amendola.
"Weekend was good… Now it's time to move on to Buffalo," DE Chris Long declared Tuesday.
Indeed, fresh off their first win of 2016 – a convincing home triumph over the Arizona Cardinals two days ago – the AFC East rival Bills present a formidable challenge. Which is why some players used the weekend windfall to get started on preparations for Buffalo.
"We have a long week of preparation ahead, where we can get a little head start, and we need that against a really good team," added Long. "We've got responsible guys in this locker room. When you have 10 days to get ready for a game, you have to make the most of that opportunity.
"I think we all spent a little time on our own – the way things are now, you can watch film from home and obviously come in this morning and continue that process. "They looked very good Sunday. It's pretty easy to see some of their strengths. Their running back, [LeSean] McCoy, is elite. He can run the ball inside or hit the edge. Their offensive line is a very cohesive unit, and Tyrod [Taylor] can hurt you all over the field. As a defensive lineman, there's a lot you have to consider."
While last week was a challenge given the limited time to prepare for Houston, New England had the advantage of being home and the bonus thereafter of a free weekend away from the office. The Patriots also rest easier knowing they have the benefit of a coaching staff, led by Belichick, that puts them in the best position to succeed, regardless of the uncontrollable conditions, such as the unorthodox game schedule.
"I find it a little weird that we get so much time – at least a day-and-a-half, two days off – to sit around the house and watch football," Amendola smiled. "You feel like you're missing something, but it's cool to get your legs back under you, mentally take a little break… it's like a mini-bye week, kind of… get treatment, rehab, and get [your body] right.
"We have a lot of faith in our coaches and the system here. The players are 100-percent bought-in to whatever they present to us each day to get us ready to play on Sunday. That's a big part of why we've won three games so far."
Winning certainly helps make it easier and more fun to come into work and put in overtime hours. Long, though, a nine-year NFL veteran in his first season as a Patriot, has learned to appreciate the end result of all that intensity and preparation, no matter the outcome.
"Yeah, it's always fun to play on Sunday. That's what the payoff is," he observed. "We work very hard during the week. Just to have an opportunity to go out there on a Sunday and try to win is all you can ask for. I've always enjoyed my job, all through my career. I have fun on Sundays. But it certainly is fun to play with a group like this."
Long and Amendola joined the rest of the Patriots Tuesday for the first on-field session of Bills Week. All 63 players (the 53-man roster, plus the 10-man practice squad) suited up and took part at least on a limited basis, and that includes both of New England's ailing quarterbacks.
As the week unfolds, it will be interesting to see just how much Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder) and rookie Jacoby Brissett (right thumb) were able to participate in practice. New England isn't required to distribute an injury report until tomorrow.
Meanwhile, second-year tight end AJ Derby was the lone Patriot with a black practice-player-of-the-week jersey – an indication that he likely served as the scout-team QB last week in the team's two walkthrough practices while Brissett was prepped to start and Garoppolo nursed his shoulder issue. Brissett was dinged up during the game Thursday against Houston.
Elsewhere, the newest member of the Patriots' active roster, DL John Hughes, took part in his first workout with the team. He was assigned jersey number 94.