If there's any benefit to the short week of playing on a Thursday night, it's having a full weekend off from football. Even while most Americans were home celebrating Columbus Day, the Patriots were back at work in Gillette Stadium this Monday getting a jump on their next opponent, the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
Of course, that means there's not only more time for New England to prepare for the undefeated Chiefs, but also more time for observers to talk about this big game on Sunday Night Football.
"They're good. They're the best team in football," linebacker Kyle Van Noy declared when reporters gathered around his locker.
Offensively, it would be hard to argue that point (although the 5-0 L.A. Rams might have something to say about that). In the AFC, at least, there are none to rival the Chiefs' record, or their prolific scoring output, led by QB Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, and speedy wide out/return specialist Tyreek Hill.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was asked today if he expected to be assigned to cover Hill, and his response was honest, if predictable.
"Whatever Coach says, I'll do."
In the meantime, the Patriots are also busy making alterations to their 53-man roster and 10-man practice squad. Running back Kenjon Barner, released last week to make room for wide receiver Julian Edelman, was back in the locker room – his third stint with the club already this season, even though he's only appeared in one game. That could change, as the Patriots have only two other ball carriers on the active roster at the moment.
On Saturday, the team released cornerback/return specialist Cyrus Jones, which freed up a spot on the 53 for Barner to come back. Jones wasn't out of work long, though, as media reports suggest he's been re-claimed by his hometown Baltimore Ravens, with whom he spent the first two weeks of the regular season on their practice squad.
The practice squad only had nine players as of last week, and that was further trimmed to seven when, according to media reports, defensive lineman Vincent Valentine and rookie running back Ralph Webb were let go. Two players have now filled the vacancies, with one spot still available: linebacker Calvin Munson (jersey no. 59) and rookie defensive lineman Frank Herron (jersey no. 92). Munson spent his 2017 rookie season with the New York Giants, while Herron was here with the Patriots during the summer.
One leftover injury note from the Colts game last Thursday: defensive lineman Malcom Brown departed early with a left knee injury. He returned to the sideline after intermission, but did not re-enter the game.
Today in the locker room, Brown made a cameo and remarked to reporters as he strolled by, "I'm good."
The team will suit up for its first practice of Chiefs week around midday Tuesday.