UPDATE, 2:12 p.m.: Tackle Matt Light, running back Sammy Morris, and receiver Julian Edelman will miss the Patriots’ matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in London because of injury.
LONDON — Playing a game in London may not have been the first choice of the Patriots’ players and coaching staff, but now that they’re here they’re embracing the experience.
It was smiles all around from Patriots players as they took it all in at today’s media availability, which was held at the Brit Oval cricket ground. It was odd to the see the pitch (field) of the large oval, which is usually the home of the Surrey County Cricket Club, lined for football.
“There is a first time for everything right,” said nose tackle Vince Wilfork.
The Brit Oval was a verdant reminder of just how unique the Patriots game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Wembley Stadium is. Even normally stoic coach Bill Belichick couldn’t contain his excitement.
“This is quite an experience for us, all of us, the team, the players and myself. I’ve been in the National Football League 35 years and this is the first time I’ve ever been to a facility like this,” said Belichick. “It’s kind of cool and I’m looking forward to the experience this weekend at Wembley [Stadium] and the couple of days we have here in London. It would be nice if we could hang around a little bit longer, see the Tower of London and all that, but it’s a great city with a great history and I love that it’s getting into football and the NFL.”
The Patriots held a light practice at the Brit Oval, donning shorts and light shoulder pads. The only players not spotted were wide receiver Julian Edelman (forearm), running back Fred Taylor (ligament damage in his right ankle), Sammy Morris (knee), Matt Light (knee) and practice squad linebacker Bruce Davis.
Cornerback Darius Butler, who had missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with an ankle injury, was present and worked on kickoff return.
It was also notable that the team took both offensive tackle Mark LeVoir and wide receiver Brandon Tate on the Euro trip. LeVoir is on the physically unable to perform list and Tate is on the non-football injury list, both players started practicing this week.
Their presence is an indication the team is at least entertaining the possibility of activating one or both of them for Sunday’s game. Tate was seen doing kickoff returns during the portion of practice that was open to the media at the cricket ground.
For most of the Patriots players this trip is the first time they’ve been to London.
“I know a lot of the guys it’s their first trip, their first trip out of the country in general, so it’s a very good experience for us all,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo.
But as Wilfork said the Patriots came to the United Kingdom for one reason — to get a win and go to 5-2.
“We have to take care of business first,” he said. “Like I said, if I like what I see I’ll come back on my own time.”