… Brisk temperatures and mostly sunny skies set the tone for a rare Saturday Patriots practice, held today on the Gillette Stadium game field. The team – decked in shells, sweats, and helmets – has an extra day to prepare for their Week 11 game versus Kansas City. They'll host the Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
… One bit of good news concerned the health of Devin McCourty. The cornerback and co-captain, who has an injured right shoulder, was apparently healthy enough to take part in at least the early portion of today's workout.
… The linebacker corps, though, remains without Dane Fletcher (thumb), Brandon Spikes (right knee), and rookie Jeff Tarpinian (illness). We'll update the blog later with the final injury details and game status information, around 4 p.m.
… With McCourty back at practice, safety James Ihedigbo lauded his secondary teammate afterward for doing his best to play through pain. "Everyone in the league is battling something at this time of year. You really look up to guys who can fight through certain injuries to be on the field playing. You have to look up to those guys and say, 'You know what, I have to pick it up even more when a guy like that's battling.'" And if McCourty can't go Monday night? "Guys have to seize the opportunity," Ihedigbo declared. "Dev's a phenomenal player. Whatever the case is … if a guy has to step up, he has to step up."
… Ihedigbo offered a more diplomatic answer when asked whether defenses relish facing a quarterback who's starting for the first time, as Kansas City's Tyler Palko (a 28-year-old first-year player) will do Monday night in Foxborough. "It's the NFL," said Ihedigbo so, everyone's here for a reason. They've proved themselves at some point that they can play at a high level. You don't take any opponent lightly. Yeah, essentially, he is a backup quarterback, but he's a guy who can play at this level. He's definitely an athletic quarterback."
… If Palko does have time to throw, he'll have some dangerous targets in receivers Dwayne Bowe and rookie Jonathan Baldwin, as Ihedigbo was quick to note. "They're definitely playmakers. Bowe's a big guy, physical receiver. We definitely have to give them different looks and play a physical game or else he'll have his way in that secondary."
… Wide receiver Chad Ochocinco appeared to be in a great mood today. First, he was rocking out to a little Michael Buble on his iTunes library. Then, he was incredulous when tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose locker is directly across the room from Ocho's, said he didn't like Lady Gaga. This led to a humorous exchange between the two, with Ocho finally blaring some of the pop princess' tunes for Hernandez, who claimed he didn't know what she sang. Finally, Ochocinco called the sparse media crowd over for a private, off-the-record conversation, at the end of which, he embraced a kissed on the cheek one of the local TV reporters. Overall, he had the look of a guy who could be primed for something big on Monday night.
UPDATE … 4:25 p.m.
… Spikes and Fletcher have both been officially ruled OUT of Monday night's affair. McCourty is DOUBTFUL (25-percent chance of playing)Tarpinian, meantime, is QUESTIONABLE (50-50 chance) after both took part in practice today on a limited basis. Twelve other Patriots are QUESTIONABLE as well: CB Kyle Arrington (foot), S Patrick Chung (right foot), C Dan Connolly (groin), DE Shaun Ellis (rib), RB Kevin Faulk (knee), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (toe), LB Gary Guyton (shoulder), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), WR Taylor Price (hamstring), WR Matthew Slater (shoulder), rookie OT Nate Solder (concussion), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back). WR Wes Welker (knee) and RG Brian Waters (left knee) were also limited in their participation today, but both are listed as PROBABLE (75-percent) for the game.
… Meanwhile, in Kansas City, QB Matt Cassel (right hand) and LB Demorrio Williams (groin) are OUT. Starting CBs Brandon Flowers (back) and Brandon Carr (ankle), starting S Jon McGraw (shoulder), and starting right defensive end Glenn Dorsey (knee) are all QUESTIONABLE.