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Hot topic loses a little steam

Coach: Weather didn't force change

FOXBOROUGH -- Sunday's forecast for Tempe, Ariz., is for partly cloudy skies with temperatures topping out at 95 degrees. That's hot, but not quite the 100-plus heat that will greet the Patriots when they arrive in town tomorrow. Never one to focus on meteorological matters, coach Bill Belichick had something else in mind when he scheduled the early departure.

"It is kind of a long week between the two games and it is a long trip, so we will try to get a little bit of that out of the way," said Belichick, who will put the Patriots through the usual Friday walkthrough in Arizona. "We will have a full week before we leave and then review it down there.

"I don't think you are going to get used to that temperature in one day. Whatever it is going to be, that is what it is going to be."

The Patriots usually leave on Saturday for a Sunday contest, but they played on Thursday last week. "It breaks up the week for us a little bit, and it is a long trip," said Belichick. "We can get out there and get settled and get focused on the game."

Although Belichick may not believe an extra couple of days will help the Patriots handle the weather better, some players weren't so sure.

"You can try to simulate as much as you can, but you really can't do it," said cornerback Ty Law, who layers on sweatshirts and sweatpants in practice to increase his body heat. "I think that's why over the years we haven't had as much success down in Miami because you can never prepare yourself for it. So I think it is a good thing to go down and get acclimated to it a little bit."

A look back
The Cardinals represent a great unknown for the Patriots. At least, that's how Belichick played it, noting how welcome the nine days between games were for preparation purposes. With little Arizona game tape to go on, Belichick looked back at what coach Dennis Green did in Minnesota.

"They have only played one regular-season game and four preseason games," said Belichick. "There were a lot of changes in preseason. Some of their players didn't play very much in preseason, guys like [Larry] Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson and Emmitt Smith. There is only so much film you can look at. There just hasn't been a lot of exposure to them.

"Some of the things that you can see last year, they just started doing them differently this year, different schemes and guys like [Leonard] Davis who moved from right guard to left tackle. They have had some changes on their offensive line.

"Today is really our jump on it. Normally, we wouldn't be practicing on Tuesday. We were able to get working on Arizona today, so hopefully we can use a little bit of extra time against them because we don't know them very well."

"[Arizona] is a tough football team," said defensive lineman Richard Seymour. "Coach Green has got his philosophy and his style of play in there. It's sort of like the Carolina Panthers. They like to be physical. It's a big offensive line, they have a mobile quarterback [Josh McCown]. Then, they also have a lot of high draft picks. They've been drafting at the top of the draft for a while, so they definitely have some talent on that side of the ball."

Law nicked
Law alternated series beginning in the second quarter of Thursday night's season opener after his right leg "tightened up a little bit," according to Belichick. His status for Sunday will be clearer when the Patriots release their official injury report today.

"This is football, and you're not ever going to be 100 percent," said Law, who also dealt with an ankle injury last year. "That's just my thought process going in, but it does get kind of frustrating, since it happened early last year. I worked through it then and I'll work through it now."

Asked if he is considering not playing against Arizona, knowing that the subsequent bye week would give him extra rest, Law said, "People tell you that, and I understand it, but I'm not really the type to listen to it. That's just me. I want to be out there on the field. I get paid to play.

"I think about all those things. I usually disregard how my body is feeling and go with what my heart tells me. My heart tells me to play regardless of the situation. But you have to be smart about it and do what's best for the team. But if I can try to go out there and play, I'm going to try to go. As long as I'm not hurting my team, I feel good about playing."

Belichick was typically tight-lipped about the injury situation, saying only that he believed Law was "doing better."

Status uncertain
Kevin Faulk was not at practice yesterday. If he is to miss Sunday's game because of the death of his mother, the Patriots would have to indicate that on the injury report . . . Belichick on Smith: "The guy is an incredible player. He has been productive every single place he has ever been. He had huge production in high school and has done it all the way through in the NFL. You talk about thinking there is a reason why there are Hall of Fame backs, that is a reason. There has been tremendous production, year after year after year after year with different guys in front of him and different defensive schemes he is running against, whether it was high school, college, professionally. He has just had a lot of substantial production for a long, long time." 

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