The Patriots wrapped up their on-field preparations for the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday. Coming off a disappointing loss to Houston, there seemed to be good energy all week at the start of practices, with vocal players and coaches, and in the locker room.
The Patriots have lost two games in a row just 13 times since 2001, but did so twice last season. How have they been able to consistently bounce back after losses?
"There's been a lot of urgency, when we win and we lose," said Tom Brady during his weekly press conference. "I think coach puts us right back into the mode of preparation and getting us ready back to play a game. This is a big one, it's on our schedule next and it's a big challenge for us. Hopefully, we can go out and meet a great challenge. It's going to be a great football game."
Maybe the biggest reason that it will be a great game is Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs quarterback in his second year as a starter after taking the NFL world by storm last season. Mahomes has the Kansas City once again tearing up NFL defenses like a it's a video game.
"There's a lot of great traits about him as a player, him as a leader," Brady said of Mahomes. "He has some unique things he can do that are hard to teach. Just his playmaking ability and how he sees the field. I think he sees things, sees plays to make that a lot of other quarterbacks wouldn't see, just because of his ability to do it. He's just a phenomenal player and he picked up this year where he left off last year. He's doing a great job.
But the big question is if the Patriots offense can get on finally get on track here in early December. Finding consistency is one thing, but keeping pace with Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs is something much bigger.
"Well, it's kind of just where we're at," said Brady. "So, we've added some players late, and guys are coming back from injury and so forth. I've said this before. Like every team in the league, there's no excuses. It's did you win or did you not? I mean, at the end of the day, that's what it comes down to. So, we're trying to score more points than them, and teams that are good in all three phases are tough to beat. And we want to be one of those teams."
One of the players added late is Mohamed Sanu, who looked promising in his first two games, including 10 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens, before sustaining an ankle injury against the Eagles that caused him to miss the Cowboys game and has continued to limit him in practice.
Coach Bill Belichick liked the progress he's seen from the receiver since his arrival despite the injury setback.
"Each week there's building blocks and you can add some things or repeat things that have come up in previous weeks to improve the execution on him and communication," said Belichick. "We've made a lot of progress – definitely headed in the right direction. We're definitely not there yet either, but we're gaining ground."
The adjustment to the Patriots complex system, one that asks receivers to read defenses and adjust routes post-snap, has been a hurdle.
"He's been in a couple different systems than what we run, so there's some carryover but there's a lot of new things, too," said Belichick. He's a smart kid, he's experienced, he's played a lot of football, so a lot of the concepts he's dealt with before – terminology and the nomenclature. The way it's presented might be a little bit different, but he can get it. That's not really a problem."
If the Patriots are to put enough points on the board to take down the Chiefs, Sanu could be prominently involved in the attack. The former Falcon expressed confidence in the locker room on Friday afternoon.
"I feel like we're doing the right job," said Sanu. "This week guys are preparing really well. We've still got a ways to go. We've still got two days, so we'll take advantage of every moment we can."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots once again were missing Byron Cowart and Ted Karras at their final practice of the week, and there was also no sign of a placekicker despite reports from Ian Rapoport that the team intended to re-sign Nick Folk. That kind of move would require a corresponding cut to someone currently on the 53-man roster. There could be moves made on Saturday as the team enters uncharted territory at the position.
Byron Cowart - Head - OUT
Ted Karras - Knee - OUT
Ja'Whaun Bentley - Knee - Questionable
Marcus Cannon - Illness - Questionable
Patrick Chung - Heel - Questionable
Julian Edelman - Shoulder - Questionable
Jason McCourty - Groin - Questionable
Tom Brady - Toe, Right Elbow - Full Participation
Cody Kessler -Illness - Full Participation
Press Conference Sound Bite
Tom Brady to Mike Reiss when asked if his appearance on the injury report with a toe injury was due to trying to be the Patriots new kicker:
"No, nope. That's not how I hurt it, and I'm not the new kicker. We'd be screwed if I was the kicker."