Friday's are normally a day when NFL teams are coming to the end of their preparations for game week. As Bill Belichick has often told us, "the hay is in the barn" at this point -- an aphorism meant to convey that they've done all the work they can do.
Interestingly, when jokingly asked if that were the case today, Belichick immediately responded, "No. Absolutely not. We need to have a good day today."
That continues a theme Belichick began on Wednesday, when he hammered home the point that the Patriots are very unfamiliar with this week's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here were some other remarks that stood out:
1 "He's smart, can play all the positions… good to have him back."
Belichick was talking about third-year wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who had one of his best games as a pro last weekend in Orchard Park against Buffalo. Dobson has been oft-injured and inconsistent in his brief Patriots career, but Sunday against the Bills, Dobson caught every pass but one thrown his way, and even that one was thrown slightly behind him. Belichick was very complimentary of Dobson's skill set, including an underrated aspect: his run-blocking.
2. Freeny's been impressive
On Thursday, it was reported that the Patriots extended by one year the contract of linebacker Jonathan Freeny, who confirmed that news item later. Friday, Belichick was asked to assess Freeny's contributions since arriving as a veteran free agent this past spring.
Belichick had plenty of nice things to say about Freeny, particularly his work ethic. Freeny has been asked to perform mostly on special teams, but his dedication to his craft has stood out to Belichick. It's little surprise, therefore, that the club decided to keep him around for an extra season.
3. Saturday routine
The media is typically not allowed to have access to NFL teams the day before a game. So, most Saturdays are off days for us. Not so for the football clubs, however. Belichick was asked about this Friday and gave a detailed account of what a normal Saturday is like for his team. It usually involves reviewing all the work they've done to that point in the week, plus emphasizing certain aspects of the game plan that need more work, or addressing smaller issues that didn't come up previously.
This is almost always done in a "walkthrough" practice, where the action on the field is simulated by the players as they literally walk through their paces on each play, rather than going full or even half speed. There's also at least one team meeting on Saturday night, but there could be an extra one on Sunday or Monday if the team is playing in prime time. Belichick revealed that he and his staff plan the work schedule for the week in backwards fashion, starting with kickoff of the game, so that their players know exactly where they should be at any given day of the week in terms of "rest, recovery, and energy level" to prepare for the next game.