Many close observers of the Patriots have wondered aloud why Darrelle Revis hasn't looked like… well, Darrelle Revis.
The Patriots cornerback has been moved around a lot in New England's defense, even playing in the slot at times, and hasn't always stayed fixed on the opposing team's top receiver – something most shut-down corners are asked to do on a weekly basis.
This week, the Cincinnati Bengals visit Foxborough with one of the game's best receivers, A.J. Green. Big question is, will Revis be manning up on him?
"I'm comfortable wherever coaches put me," Revis insisted Thursday. "Wherever the coaches put me, just have to execute my job."
It's been suggested by some in the media – including former Patriots players – that Revis is the type of player who could go to his coaches and request that he be assigned to guard a specific player, like Green.
"Yes, I have. In the past. A bunch of receivers," he admitted. "Yeah, I feel comfortable approaching Bill [Belichick] about anything. Bill's very open to players coming up to him and talking about things on or off the field.
"Maybe I could. I don't know. It's a team effort on defense. It's not one individual. That's how we have to look at it. Whatever's best for the defense, game-planning-wise to help us win, that's what we're going to do. The goal out of this is getting a win. It doesn't matter if I'm inside, outsides, or coming off the edge."
Revis was asked, too, about the mood of his team following the Monday night loss to Kansas City.
"I think we're very upbeat," he declared. "It's been a short week, we made the corrections, and we're moving on to Cincinnati. It was a terrible loss for us, but at the same time… we're looking forward to this matchup with Cincinnati."
Where there's a Wil-fork, there's a way
Revis' defensive teammate, co-captain/d-lineman Vince Wilfork, echoed his sentiments.
"Can't live in the past. Not in this league. And we're not. We'll be better," Wilfork predicted. "The most frustrating thing is, you have good practices and you can't get it together [on Sundays]. We have to believe in what we do and do it a little better.
"Little things we've been doing that haven't been right, if we correct those things, this team will look totally different," he added. "We understand that. There are tons of things we're doing that we have no business doing or should be doing better. I have full confidence in this team. We have a lot of great guys around this locker room, played a lot of football games, and know what it takes to win. Hopefully, we can get back on track this week. Practice has been good. It's a step in the right direction.
"We just have to do a better job of executing and making plays. When you don't… it'll be a long night. We've seen that, been there, but, hopefully, we're done with that."
Normally a jovial personality, tight end Rob Gronkowski exhibited some rare frustration with reporters' line of questioning about his health Thursday.
"I feel good… kind of sick of answering these questions every week. Whatever they put me in for, I'm ready. Yup, whatever they ask me to do, I'll go out there and perform to the best of my ability for the coaches."
Like his teammates on defense, Gronk expressed optimism about the long-term prospects for a Patriots turnaround.
"We just got to stick together, keep on practicing hard, execute better on Sundays. We have to bring what we practice out onto the field on Sundays and make more plays. If we stick together, everything's going to click and we'll be fine."
Just two players were absent from Thursday's workout on the Patriots' rain-slickened practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Both safety Nate Ebner and rookie o-lineman Cameron Fleming were listed with finger injuries on Wednesday's injury report.
Meantime, one player who hasn't been listed is second-year receiver Aaron Dobson, who nonetheless has been inactive the past two games. According to a report in The Boston Globe, Dobson's healthy scratches have been "because he has had at least one loud disagreement with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels."
When approached by reporters in the locker room Thursday, Dobson declined comment.