Bill Belichick opened his Friday press conference ready to put the bye week behind him and his 8-1 Patriots and get the lingering taste of a loss to Baltimore out of their mouths.
"It’s been a while since we’ve played, and I think – you know, I was talking to the guys this morning, and just the general tone of the team, I feel like we’re excited to play," said Belichick. "I’m excited to get back out there and do what we do."
Belichick wasn't the only one itching to get back on the game field. The bye week is always a welcome break, but by this point everyone's ready to play in a game.
"It feels like it's been a super long time," said Julian Edelman from his locker after practice. "Sometimes the bye week's great and then it's kinda like 'let's get this show on the road, I'm sick of being on the practice field and I want to go play football.' You sit and you've got a lot of time to prepare and it's almost like 'let's go.' It's definitely awesome that it's only two days away."
Tom Brady was right there with his star receiver and coach. Has it felt like a long time since the last time he took the field?
"Yeah, it has," said Brady at his Friday press conference. "We didn't play great the last time out. It's another good test for us. We're gonna have to get off to a better start. You do that on the road it's gonna be tough to overcome those. Any team that gets down 17-0, 21-0, 14-0 on the road it's pretty tough. That's the way we want to play, play from ahead, we're gonna have to play well early to get off to a fast start."
Offensively, the Patriots will be looking to build off some positive moments from the Ravens loss. While it's unlikely they'll roll out just one personnel group and a majority of no-huddle against the Eagles, the use of pace and incorporation of Mohamed Sanu after just two weeks of practice were some highlights that made it seem like the Patriots offense was figuring out who they were.
In 2007 they were a spread passing attack, in 2010 they became a two-tight-end, no huddle attack until it became the Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman show, the two key pieces that led them to four of the last five Super Bowl games.
Last year they morphed into a team that could truly lean on their power running game, another unique twist that earned them much praise. But who is this 2019 Patriots offense? Even Brady said it's a season-long process and one that is largely influenced by the opposing defenses they face.
"You could 'feel like you have it figured out' two weeks from now then someone gets injured and then you have to start again," said Brady when asked if his offense had figured out who they were yet. "A lot of teams I've been on you just keep trying to figure it out week to week. The matchup's a little different, we're gonna have to do some different things. We know they have some strengths so we're gonna have to understand what those are, and then we've got to adapt, then our players have to adapt and the scheme has to adapt. Then, we have to go out and execute.
"We're a gameplan team and I think that's a real strength of ours and we have to continue to make that a strength by embracing the different challenges that each team really presents to us."
Edelman and Belichick both saw a sizable challenge coming from the Eagles.
"Veteran players that have played in a lot of game," said Edelman. "It looks like they're getting better at the right time. Hungry team. Well-coached team. It's a team that we have a little history with but we still really don't know as much. Lot of new players, different year. It's going to be a big challenge."
The Eagles are a tough team to prepare for," said Belichick. "We spent a lot of time getting ready for them this week. It’s definitely a challenge, but I think we’re getting to the point here where it’s time to go out there and put it on the field."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots welcomed back Nate Ebner to their final practice of the week on Friday, a warmer session compared to two chillier ones on Wednesday and Thursday. Practice squad member Obi Melifonwu was the one absence, but all from the 53-man roster were accounted for.
The injury report wasn't quite as positive though, with Damien Harris and Gunner Olszewski added to the report. Olszewski missed the Ravens game and his potential absence could complicate things for the punt return game. Danny Shelton and Patrick Chung are the two biggest pieces to keep an eye on.
S Patrick Chung, Heel/Chest (LP)
S Nate Ebner, Ankle/Back (LP)
RB Damien Harris, Hamstring (LP)
TE Matt LaCosse, Knee (LP)
WR Gunner Olszewski, Ankle/Hamstring (LP)
DT Danny Shelton, Ankle (LP)
DE John Simon, Elbow (LP)
Locker Room Sound Bites
Julian Edelman on earning Tom Brady's trust:
"It's hard. You get it through consistency in practice, consistency in games and you're constantly earning it. It's not something you just get and then you keep. You have to constantly keep working on your craft and your chemistry. Knowing what the coaches want, knowing what Tom wants, knowing where you need to be. All those things, there's so many variables.