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Quick Kicks: Thanksgiving leftovers

Having only returned to Foxborough about 12 hours ago, the Patriots are enjoyed what remains of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Players are off until Monday, but the coaching staff is still at Gillette Stadium trying to get caught up not only on last night’s 49-19 victory over the New York Jets, but also last Sunday’s win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Logan Ryan
Logan Ryan

In comments to reporters via conference call this afternoon, head coach Bill Belichick reiterated what he'd said in the immediate aftermath of the rout last night – that his players should be lauded for the way they prepared on a short week of work. A week in which they only had one practice, and at that it was only a walk-through.

"After going through the film, it's really apparent that the preparation our players put into this game certainly helped us out in our overall execution," Belichick began. "Thought we had a real good three, four days, including the Thursday [morning] before the game, of concentration, focus, competitiveness, attention to detail. All those things came out in different aspects of the game. That was a real credit to the players… we had good energy last night. The big plays in the game tilted the game strongly in our favor.

"It was good to see us respond to the challenge of playing the Jets on Thanksgiving night. Hopefully, we'll be able to respond to future challenges in the same way."

One of the surprises from the game was the absence of right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who has been dealing with a couple of injuries, but has nonetheless been able to suit up on game days. Last night was an exception, however. Belichick would not say why Vollmer was deactivated, on that the team "needed to call on" second-year man Marcus Cannon.

"Marcus did a real good job filling in there. I thought he did a good job in the passing game and also had some strong run blocks," said Belichick, who also praised the offensive line as a whole, and with good reason. The banged up bunch did not surrender a sack of quarterback Tom Brady yet again, despite having also been without the services of starting left guard/co-captain Logan Mankins (left ankle/calf). Donald Thomas filled in capably there yet again.

No update was given on the health status of wide receiver/all-purpose player Julian Edelman, who left in the third quarter with a concussion.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed the first game of his NFL career after undergoing surgery to his left forearm Monday morning, but Belichick praised the work of Daniel Fells, who picked up the slack for Gronk. The head coach also was pleased to have one of his other star tight ends, Aaron Hernandez, back after missing significant game time with a right ankle injury.

"I think it's tough when a player's been out a few weeks to come right back in at the same role that he would be if he were playing all those consecutive weeks and practicing. I think Aaron did some good things. We hope that in the next game he plays, he'll be able to build on last night."

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia told reporters that safety Patrick Chung, who also saw his first action in more than a month, was given a "specific package" of plays (mostly in nickel and dime sub defenses) to ease his return to the lineup.

"It was good to see him back out there. Certainly a step in the right direction."

Patricia also offered a brief observation about the progress of cornerback Aqib Talib, who has now played two games for the Patriots in less than a week.

"He was on board… did a good job studying film, studying the opponent," Patricia said of Talib's work ethic this past week. "Obviously, communication was a big point of emphasis for us this week in practice. It will be a building process to get him up with everyone else who's been here the entire season. He's doing a good job of that, really trying to improve the little things."

We'll leave you with this nugget:

Following the game, playmaking defensive end Rob Ninkovich was asked if, like Mike Vrabel before him, he has lobbied the Patriots coaches to allow him to put his good hands to good use by playing some tight end.

"I've asked [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] a few times," Ninko smiled, "but that hasn't happened yet."

When the subject came up today with McDaniels, he began laughing before the question was even done being asked.

"I think we have enough tight ends," McDaniels responded, adding, "Ninko's doing a good job on defense."

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