They were outside on their grass field behind Gillette Stadium early this afternoon in their customary shells (smaller, lighter shoulder pads) and helmets.
For the second straight day, all 61 players were on the field at the start of practice.
For the first time in his career, meanwhile, WR Brandon Lloyd is preparing for a playoff game. Though he's been with several other teams, never before has he found himself in the post-season. "I'd be at Sundance Film Festival, on my way to the Bahamas," he laughed while discussing the topic with reporters. "You know, all kinds of different stuff."
Lloyd also made a point to how head coach Bill Belichick's style of coaching has helped him this season. "He's a great teacher. The way that he teaches the game, it's almost like I'm not being coached, I'm actually being taught. That's been the part of this experience that's stood out the most."
Cornerback Aqib Talib is another first-timer to the playoff party and is equally enthused to be here. "One of the first things I thought about when I was traded here was that I was definitely going to have a chance to play in these playoffs. I'm very excited. Very excited. I watched them every year, every game. It's the best football you're going to watch. It's good to be a part of it. I expect the intensity to turn up. It's definitely turned up in practice and in the meetings. If it's turned up there, I definitely expect it to get turned up in the games. It's still going to be football, but I expect the coaches to coach a little more aggressive and to play a little more aggressive."
Left guard/co-captain Logan Mankins admitted it's been a difficult season for him, dealing with numerous injuries and missing several games. He was then asked about the news that former teammate Junior Seau had been suffering from a brain problem called CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) before his suicide in May. CTE is believed to be the result of multiple head traumas – not unlike those incurred on a football field – so, a reporter wondered if Mankins and other players find that connection worrisome for their own long-term health. "I'd say so, if you sit down and think about it, but it's the playoffs right now, so, that's the least of our concerns right now. You could probably say we're meat-headed and ignorant not to think about it. Maybe in February, after the season, we can think about that."
Interesting quote today from Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Asked by ESPN.com if cornerback Jonathan Joseph would cover Wes Welker Sunday, Phillips responded, "Ah, Welker's not [like Cincinnati's A.J.] Green. He's a good player, but he's not that big or a real athletic guy. He's a quick guy that gets open on option routes. [Brandon] Harris actually played him pretty good [in the December game]."