For the second consecutive day, Patriots QB Tom Brady was not seen either in the team's locker room or at practice.
He has said publicly that his injured ankle is "nothing serious," and that he fully intends to play in Super Bowl XLII. But has his absence this week caused any concern among his favorite targets on offense?
"Well, Bill [Belichick] actually brought me in his office earlier this morning and asked me if I wanted to move to quarterback," WR Donté Stallworth deadpanned, "and we're going to put in a whole new offense.
"He wants me to run the option. We brought in the coach from Nebraska, Tom Osborne, so I've met with him and we have the option going. Tom's going to go ahead and let me take the reigns for this game."
The fact that Stallworth took the question so lightly may indicate just how serious – or not – Brady's bum ankle is.
Perhaps Stallworth is more preoccupied with playing in his first-ever Super Bowl.
"I've always been a big football fan, NFL fan, since I've been a little kid," he noted, "so I've seen the whole circus that goes on. It's all fun and good, but we all understand what's really at stake here and what's most important."
"I tell you, I think it's been a media hype around here all season, so I don't think it's anything new for us," echoed WR Wes Welker.
"I realize it's kind of picked up a little bit, but to tell you the truth, it's kind of been a circus around here all year. We just have to take it in stride and remain on the same course we've been on all year, make sure we're concentrating and focusing on the game and are ready for our execution out there on Sunday."
"I think it has just all the tension that is coming with the game, the Super Bowl game, the final game," WR Kelley Washington offered. "Whether it be the media, whether it be from friends and family it is just a lot that is going on."
"Guys have family issues, as far as tickets and getting your family down there and hotel rooms and all of that stuff," Stallworth continued. "We've tried to get all of that stuff taken care of before we even leave to go to Arizona. The most important thing is just focusing on the game, especially, like I said, this week during the game preparation of this week, and then once we get down there it's definitely all about business.
"I'm focused. I already left a voicemail on my phone, in the locker room after the game, after we won the game here Sunday, saying, 'Hey, I don't have any tickets. Don't call here asking me.' And I haven't gotten any calls, so that's good. I guess they got the point."
"I think the veterans are doing a real good job of keeping us focused," Washington said. He offered this piece of advice as an example.
"They say that you're supposed to close your eyes the first second after you kick the ball off just because of all the cameras and lights, so that'll be an experience. But I really feel that after kickoff and the first couple of series, all the adrenaline will start to wear off and we'll just focus on our assignments … it is just going to be another game."
It won't be just another game if Stallworth is under center, however, and not Brady.
"Well, actually," Welker played along, "Coach pulled me into the office and told me I was going to be the quarterback, so I don't know where [Stallworth's] hearing that from. I think he kind of overheard our conversation, and that's actually going to be my role."
So there's a quarterback controversy in New England now?
"A little bit," Welker smiled.
Friday Practice/Locker Room Notebook
Brady and OL Ryan O'Callaghan, who had been battling the flu recently, were the only players not at practice Friday.
Safety Rodney Harrison, who missed Thursday's session, was back on the field Friday.
The Patriots were once again in full pads for practice, which took place inside the Dana-Farber Field House.