If nothing else, Terdell Sandshas a sense of irony.
"I'm not as big as most people think I am. I'm just bigger than most people have ever seen, that's all."
This, from a 6-8, 355-pound guy who wears a size 15 shoe.
Signed Tuesday to add depth to New England's defensive lineman, Sands spoke with reporters for the first time since becoming a Patriot.
"Good opportunity," he said of his new job. "Coming from the program I came from, it's a good opportunity to come win and contribute the best I can."
The program to which he referred is the Oakland Raiders, which whom he spent the past six NFL seasons. He was released by the Raiders prior to the start of this season and has been home in Chattanooga, Tennessee waiting for a call.
He divulged that he got one last week and came up to Foxborough to work out for New England. Sands then went home to get some clothes and returned Sunday when the Pats played Atlanta. He said he sensed that a signing was imminent and decided to stay in town.
"I always expected something," Sands said of his brief absence from the NFL. "I've played a lot of football, so I was hoping I'd get an opportunity. They called and I was happy to come."
Sands confirmed that he'd signed a two-year deal with New England, but he seemed rather confident it wouldn't take him nearly that long to get up to speed with the Pats defense.
"About a week or two," he predicted. "It's not that hard. It's almost the same terms we had with [former Patriots linebackers coach and former Raiders defensive coordinator] Rob Ryan, so it's not that hard."
He added that his specialty is as a run-stuffer and that he was told to expect to play nose tackle and some 3-technique, where he would line up between the guard and tackle and shoot the gap to disrupt the opposing offense's backfield.
"Wherever they ask me to play, I will play. I have no preference … Just depends on the scheme for that week."
Back to his considerable height, which was a theme throughout his five-minute Q&A session with the media. Sands said he started playing football when he was nine or 10, but that he was about average size until he got toward the end of his high school career.
And while it's helped him find work in the NFL, his height does have its disadvantages – like having to answer questions constantly about how big he is.
"I got a shirt made with 520 on it. That's my height, so you don't have to ask me any more. You do your math. You've gotta do some thinking."
For the record, 520 stands for five feet, 20 inches.
Light-ing the way
Left tackle Matt Lightand the offense will have a challenge this week trying to outwit Baltimore's historically tough defense.
"Their defense is good in all aspects," he told reporters gathered around his locker today. "Obviously, they have some big playmakers over there. It's going to be critical for us to cue in on those kind of guys, make sure they get handled up front, and get off to a fast start."
The mainstays on the Ravens D include safety Ed Reed, defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, and linebacker Ray Lewis. Baltimore lost its defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, who went to New York to become head coach of the Jets, but that hasn't altered the way the Ravens attack on defense.
"They're the same as they were a year ago," Light maintained. "They still have a lot of the same guys. They have really good speed. They're going to attack you with everything they have. They're going to blitz you quite a bit. But yeah, there are some differences. Ultimately it comes down to getting a hat on a hat."
Asked to describe Lewis, Light said, "Just a great all-around football player. He's a guy with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a leader on that defense. Been doing it for a long time, he's a very experienced guy. I'm sure we'll have fun with him out there."
One player Light will almost certainly have to tangle with is pass-rushing outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. A reporter wondered aloud if Light has had restless nights thinking about that match-up this week.
"I sleep like a baby," Light replied, winking.
Thursday locker room/practice notes
After missing Wednesday's session, OL Nick Kaczur was back on the practice field Thursday. However, LB Jerod Mayocontinues his absence, while NT Vince Wilforkwas not on the field for the second straight day. The rest of the team, including WR Wes Welker (who's practiced but not played in games the past two weeks), was out on the field, in full pads.
LB Prescott Burgesswas back with the team after being released to make room for Sands. He was re-signed to the eight-man practice squad. In order to do that, the team had to release DL Adrian Gradyfrom the practice squad.
As part of the NFL's observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, QB Tom Bradywas sporting pink and white cleats at practice. Pink is the official color of the cause.