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Rest, refocus and self-evaluation top Patriots bye week priorities

The Patriots got in a final pre-bye-week practice session before getting a long weekend off to rest up and reset for the final season push.

Patriots safety Adrian Phillips (21).
Patriots safety Adrian Phillips (21).

Patriots players wrapped up their bye week responsibilities on Wednesday as the team took the opportunity to get in a final practice before having an extended weekend off to rest up and refocus on the final eight games of the season.

"Right in the middle of the season, it's always kind of where you want it," said Hunter Henry. "Just ready to regroup and kind of hit this back stretch good and finish strong...I think it's good for everybody, we've been at this for a while so it's always good right in the middle to take a little break, reset and I think everybody will be recharged and ready to go when we get back."

"I think right now it's a good opportunity for us to kind of look at ourselves in the mirror and self-assess some things," said Ja'Whaun Bentley. "Just focus on the little things that you aren't able to hone into during the week because everything is kind of flowing really fast."

For Bentley, the physical rest is the nice perk, but getting any mental rest can be a challenge for someone like him whose mind is constantly drifting back to football.

"I'm always thinking about something just randomly throughout the day, I could be cooking, anything, you just sit there thinking about football because you're in it. When I'm in it, I'm in it," said the linebacker. "Obviously physically you're taking a little bit off your body but mentally you're almost always, especially when you're in season, you're constantly thinking about football. You want to try to give yourself a mental break from it but different strokes for different folks. I try my best but yeah, we in it."

The bye week can also be a time for improvement, as the team puts themselves under the microscope and tries to iron out any issues that have continued to pop up. Mac Jones and the offense used Wednesday's session as a chance to tinker a bit.

"Every team is evaluating, whether that's defense, special teams or offense," said Jones. "As a player, it's what can I do better to help the team? Obviously, like you said, the communication is great. I think we got some time just to look at some of our base stuff and say, 'hey, this is how I see it and let's try it like this today at practice,' and we did some good stuff at practice, just to see how it looks. Obviously, that's the whole point of the bye week, right? To get your practice in and then kind of get away from the game and get ready for a really good team next week.

Adrian Phillips felt similarly for the defense as the unit looks to build on what has been two excellent performances in back-to-back wins.

"It's a great chance for us to improve," said Phillips. "It's a chance for us to look at the film, self-assess what we do and see what works and what doesn't work. We get out there in the practice field and you're not really game planning for a team that you might have two weeks from now. You're really honing in on what you need to do to get better so it's all just a fundamental day and it's a chance for you to go out there and get better."

The players will be back at the stadium on Monday for another polish-up practice session as they turn the page and begin to lock in on a major divisional rematch against the Jets, who are also spending this weekend on their own bye. Coming off a big win over the Buffalo Bills, the Jets will come into Foxborough with something to prove and the Patriots are already aware of the kind of challenge they can expect.

Henry acknowledged the offense had their work cut out for them, with Bill Belichick commenting earlier in the week that everyone on that side of the ball needs to focus on executing their assignments at a high level. The tight end said the extra work the team puts in should be a source of confidence and provide the ability to play fast and free.

"It starts every day, coming in with the approach to attack the day," said Henry. "Really being ready when we step on that field that we put the work in throughout the week. I think that's really what we have to attack, every single week put the extra work in so when we step on the field we can play fast. We can play together, just let it loose that we put that work in and we can really go out there and do the best [we] can."

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