The Patriots looked to return to normalcy as a typical game preparation week began on Wednesday for Sunday's 4:15 p.m. matchup with the 5-2 Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium. After light workouts and meetings on Monday and Tuesday the team was back to work looking to end its current three game losing streak.
But as much as Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick may have been happy with bye-week workouts and the team's return from a three-day weekend break, he pointed out that the success of bye-week work won't be know until Sunday night. Until they step onto the field against the Broncos the question will remain unanswered as to if they did enough in the two week's since the loss to the Packers to turn things around?
"I don't think we are going to have the answer to that one until Sunday," Belichick said. "We are going to work on building on the fundamentals and individual technique things that we worked on last week. We adjusted some scheme things based on what our production has been in the first six games. Some things are going well and we want to do a little more of them and some things that aren't going as well maybe we'll do a little bit less of or alter them a little bit. How all that will come together and what we will see on Sunday, that remains to be seen."
Belichick did say though that the team had addressed a number of issues in the week off. After the Packers loss Belichick had said that he felt the team need to "start over", and without having gotten back on the field the coach is relatively happy with what took place over the last 10 days or so.
"I think that there was some improvement on the practice field, but I don't know that that is really the bottom line," Belichick said. "The bottom line is what shows up out there on Sundays. How much we accomplished and all that, we will find out on Sunday."
The coach went to say that the players' time away was best spent cleaning their minds from football and the day-to-day grind and to "come back ready to work and ready for a significant challenge this week with the Broncos."
For his part, Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said he was ready to get back onto the field and more than ready to end the current losing streak.
"I've got the feeling like we haven't played in a while so I am anxious to get back out there and play," Bruschi said. "I want to get back out there and practicing again. We had a good time off, but I want to get back out there and practice and get better because going out there again on Sunday will give us another chance to get a victory."
And Bruschi downplayed the idea that maybe this team needed to be reminded that they are the champions and how it was that they achieved success last season.
"We have to win a game because we haven't won a game in about a month," Bruschi said. "The champion stuff is over, we've got to remind ourselves that, 'let's get back to winning a football game,' starting with this Sunday."
But as coach Belichick pointed out numerous times on Wednesday no one will really know how successful the Patriots bye week was until Sunday. And right now, everyone in the Patriots locker room is eager to show that things are going in the right direction again.
The Patriots returned from the bye week with a familiar group of names on the injury report for Sunday's game with the Broncos. New England listed seven players on the report, including guard Steve Neal who has been placed on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury. Guard Joe Andruzzi (knee), wide receiver Troy Brown (knee), tight end Daniel Graham (shoulder), defensive end Rick Lyle (back), defensive end Anthony Pleasant (shoulder) and center Grey Ruegamer (foot) are all listed as Questionable.
The Broncos also placed a player on Injured Reserve, as they lost four-time Pro Bowl center Tom Nalen to a torn anterior cruciate ligament last week against the Chiefs. The injury ends a 115 game-iron man streak for Nalen, a Boston College alum and Foxboro, Mass. native. Others on the Denver injury report, all listed as Probable, are safety Sam Brandon (knee), linebacker Keith Burns (hand), defensive tackle Chester McGlockton (lower leg), defensive tackle Monsanto Pope (ankle) and tight end Shannon Sharpe (knee).
Practice Squad Transactions
The Patriots announced a number of practice squad transactions late Tuesday. Cornerback Brock Williams and offensive lineman Teag Whiting were released. The two were replaced on the roster by the re-signing of wide receiver T.C. Taylor and the signing of guard Russ Hochstein. Taylor spent time with the Patriots in training camp and was on the practice squad earlier this season. Hochstein was originally drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2001 draft out of Nebraska. The 6-4, 300-pound lineman was inactive for every game last season and spent two separate tours on the Tampa Bay practice squad before being released on Oct. 15.