HOUSTON -- The Patriots spent two seasons without a quarterbacks coach before settling on John Hufnagel last offseason. Now it looks like they may be looking for another replacement come Monday.
According to a report in the Boston Globe citing a league source, Hufnagel will leave the team after the Super Bowl to join Tom Coughlin's staff with the New York Giants as offensive coordinator. Before coming to New England, Hufnagel served as Coughlin's quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville before the Jags gave Coughlin the axe after the 2002 season.
Bill Belichick and Charlie Weis shared the quarterbacks coach duties in 2001 and 2002 following the death of Dick Rehbein during training camp in August 2001. It is unknown whether Belichick will look for another replacement or revert back to that formula.
When asked during Media Day on Tuesday if Sunday would be his last game with the Patriots, Hufnagel told the Globe "I'm talking about the game on Sunday."
Here's to the fans
The crew of Patriots Football Weekly lobbied listeners of "PFW in Progress," our daily radio show on patriots.com, last week for potential story angles and questions to use during the Super Bowl. Dan Heffron of Alexandria, Va., suggested we ask the players what they would say directly to the fans if they had a chance.
One of the most interesting responses to that question came from the normally-silent Ted Washington. The nose tackle began his answer innocently enough by proclaiming Patriots fans as "the greatest in the league." But as he continued, it was clear New England's faithful have had a profound impact on him during his first year.
"I haven't told anyone about this, but when we were leaving the stadium to come here on Sunday and all of those people were lined up in freezing cold temperatures to see us off, I got really emotional," Washington said. "It took everything I had to hold back the tears as we were driving off. We kept going and the fans just kept going right on down the line. It was very emotional to me."
Back to work
The Patriots returned to the practice field Wednesday, but instead of working out at Rice University, they were inside the Texans practice bubble adjacent to Reliant Stadium.
Apparently, the practice fields at Rice were not in the greatest of shape so New England requested permission to move and received it from the league.
The Houston Chronicle's John McClain, who is the AFC pool reporter assigned to cover New England's practices, will provide a report later today that will be posted on Patriots.com.
The Patriots released their first injury report since winning the AFC Championship. The list included three players – linebacker Tedy Bruschi (leg), tight endChristian Fauria (leg) and fullback Patrick Pass (ankle) – and all were probable. "I'm doing OK," Bruschi said, remaining mum on his playing status.
The right mix
Matt Light spent some time talking about the chemistry among the offensive line. "Our group gets along great," he said. "We all go out together. We all respect each other and someone different always takes the lead. That's what builds chemistry. The respect we show each other goes a long way in helping us communicate."
Centers of attention
Fullback Larry Centers is best known for being the NFL's all-time receptions leader among running backs with 827, which ranks seventh all-time among all receivers. While that's an impressive accomplishment, a Super Bowl title would easily trump it. "Before getting to this game, that's one of the things I had to hang my hat on to keep me encouraged along the way. Hopefully that will be a footnote after this Sunday if we come away with a win."
Hail to the fans
Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked about his team's fan support, which didn't exist until 1993 and 1994 with the arrival of Kraft, Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe.
"They've really become the 12th man for us. I said earlier, our fans are like the fans at Lambeau Field. I don't think they lost a home playoff game before last year in a couple of decades. We hope we can develop that kind of reputation; we have a long way to go, but the fans really made a difference … the way they supported us in the games in the rain and the games in the snow, minus-15 degrees – the coldest day in my life when we played Tennessee. It was unbelievable. We thought our no-shows would be huge. The only difference we did is we gave away coffee and hot chocolate to people coming in and then we spiked it in the stands (joke). I think that helped them to stay. Nobody left. Did you see the Miami game? The Miami game when they threw the snow up – it was a spontaneous thing. It's just a great tribute to the fans of our region and how they've supported the team. I think that kind of fan base is available anywhere in America where they feel ownership and the people running the franchise are passionate about it. That's the unique part of the NFL. You see it right here in Houston. We went to this event last night and the people are just huge, huge NFL fans."