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Patriots Notebook - 11/21/2006

The Patriots are on an odd schedule this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. The New England media had access to the locker room and practice, but coach Bill Belichick didn’t speak to the press on Tuesday.

The Patriots held practice at outside at one of their upper fields on Tuesday. The media was allowed to stay a bit longer than usual and had a chance to watch stretching and two sets of drills. Running back Corey Dillon was injured on his short touchdown run last Sunday, but returned to the game. He was wearing a red non-contact jersey at practice on Tuesday. Practice squad receiver Kelvin Kight wore a black jersey, indicating that he put in a noticeable extra effort leading up to the Green Bay game and was named the practice player of the week. Quarterbacks Tom Brady,Matt Cassel and Vinny Testaverde all wore their usual red non-contact jerseys. The only players not seen on the field were safety Rodney Harrison, who hasn't practiced since breaking his scapula against the Colts, and rookie defensive back Willie Andrews. Cornerback Ellis Hobbs seemed to be filling in for Andrews on a kickoff team drill.

Friendly rivalryBrady had a nice surprise waiting for him in the locker room today when the media was allowed in. It was a brand new, shiny red… Mike Vrabel jersey. With Brady being a Michigan alum and Vrabel a former Buckeye, it seems the two had a little friendly wager on last weekend's Ohio State-Michigan matchup. The No. 1 ranked Buckeyes emerged victorious in the game, hence the gift.

Brady tried to hit Vrabel with a touchdown pass in the second quarter of last Sunday's game, but the ball was a little high. Vrabel made the catch but couldn't get both feet down before falling out of the back of the end zone. If the pass had connected, Brady's total touchdown passes would have reached a career-high five in the game. Vrabel plays tight end on short-yardage and goal line plays, which is why the linebacker was on the field at the same time as the former Michigan QB. After the game, both teammates joked that there was too much bitterness left over from Saturday's game for the pass to connect.

Don't be surprised if Brady's wearing the red, No. 94 jersey in his press conference tomorrow – he wasn't wearing it at practice Tuesday. Vrabel still owns Ohio State's career and single-season sack records.

All games, big and smallThe Patriots walked away from the now 4-6 Packers having beaten them in essentially every facet of the game. That was Sunday night. With Tuesday arrived a whole new week for the Patriots and a sizable opponent in the 9-1 Bears.

"It's one of those [situations] where you put the game behind you," said rookie running back Laurence Maroney. "It was a good win against a good team, a good opponent. But you try not to dwell on it too much. You put it behind you. You've just got to get ready for the Bears."

"I don't think it's tough [to get past the win], because Chicago doesn't care what we did last week," said safety Artrell Hawkins, weighing in on the transition from the last game to the upcoming one. "And we shouldn't care what we did last week either. It's a whole new week and it doesn't matter what you did the week before. It's all about what you're going to do in the upcoming game. I think everyone here understands that. We have to re-focus. That's just part of being in the NFL, being able to re-focus and understand that the team you're going up against the week after you have a good game – it doesn't really matter to them. It doesn't matter to us if they had a good game last week either. It's all about 'What have you done for me lately?' mentality."

Tackle Matt Light put it plainly, saying, "There's going to be a lot of big-play opportunities. We've just got to go out there and match their aggressive style."

What does Maroney expect to see from the league's top defense this Sunday?

"Basically they're a turnover team," he said on Tuesday. "They try to get all the turnovers they can. I think they average, what something like three, two turnovers per game. So it's one of those games where you really have to have ball control, ball protection. It's a great defense. They play hard, you know. We've just got to play up to their tempo."

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