Bill Belichick took his troops onto the Gillette Stadium game field in full pads for a split-squad scrimmage. It's a tactic he's used in the past when his teams have a bye week to start the playoffs.
Half the team was in white jerseys, the other in blue. The only players not seen were WR Brandon LaFell (ankle) and DL Alan Branch.
"White won. We won by a field goal," cornerback Brandon Browner told reporters with a grin. "It was fun. Great way to keep the guys competing and get something out of practice, because it is a bye week. So, you have some guys whose minds are maybe on getting out of here, trying to get done with the week. He set it up for us to compete. I think it was a great idea."
"I think it was beneficial because it was very competitive," added Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, also a member of Team White. "I think you've got to give credit to the coaches for seeing that, especially on the bye week. It's really an off week where we're not playing, so I think we did a great job of just being competitive and having that competitive spirit and just trying to work on the things that we've talked about that we need to work on in the past."
Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski was on the losing Team Blue, but his spirits didn't seem diminished by the outcome.
"We're just going out there [to] practice hard, practicing versus each other, having fun out there. It's football. [We're] just practicing hard, getting corrections done and making plays and running, doing it all. We're just having fun out at practice and working hard."
"Our whole goal this week is just to get better," added Revis. "You know, go back on past games and just try to see where we can correct things and get better at them. That's all we've been doing, is trying to focus on us this whole week on this bye so that's what we've been doing."
The team is scheduled to practice again on New Year's Day before taking the rest of the holiday weekend off. The players say they're excited for the time off and to be fans of the game, watching the college and NFL playoffs in the coming days.
"We've still got one more day of practice, getting our bodies right. We'll watch some football this week to see who our opponent is coming up next Saturday," Browner continued. "Most definitely. I'm into football, so I'll sit around and watch football when I'm not playing anyways. You watch as a fan and as a player. You want to see which team you're going to play against, [and for] me personally, what team or what group of receivers do I match up best against."
New Year's resolutions? Browner said he only had one.
"I want to win it all, to be honest. That's the only thing that matters to me, is winning it all. If I win it all, I think everything will fall into place."