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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

While others kick off, Patriots will kick back

FOXBOROUGH -- Some of them watched playoff football yesterday afternoon and again last night. Some will be back on the sofa or Barcalounger today when the Colts take on the Broncos at 1 p.m.

Of course, not all of the Patriot players are as football-crazed as their fans. Four playoff games in two days is a lot of TV time, and the Lawless Patriots don't want square eyes when they reconvene at the stadium tomorrow for their first practice in five days. NFL players don't get much family time on weekends during football season.

Routines vary for those enjoying a bye weekend while eight other worthy teams slug it out.

Bill Belichick will watch today's Colts-Broncos game in his Gillette Stadium office (you thought he'd be at the Opera House for "The Lion King"?). He's already junked his Chargers file. The Patriots' opponent next Sunday is going to be either the Jets or the Colts if they win today. Another file will be tossed sometime around 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The coach and his staff will be at the stadium. The players will be scattered throughout the region, some watching football, others merely waiting for someone to tell them whom they're playing next weekend.

"I'll definitely be watching," said Tom Brady. "I'm still trying to figure out what the other teams are doing and what's going on. It's not the same as watching when you are a fan. When I watched USC and Oklahoma, I was very much a fan. But in these games, I'm trying to study what they're doing. It's definitely different. It's not as much fun."

Think of it this way. Most of us enjoy movies and books. But the enjoyment is tempered if you are assigned to write a movie review or book critique after you've finished. It'll be a similar experience for Brady and the rest of the Patriots who watch the Colts on TV today.

"As much as I do enjoy watching the football part, it's still tempered by the fact that we're trying to get ready to play a football game," said the quarterback. "When the offense is on the field, I'm more of a fan. When the defense is on the field I'll say, `Oh, that play wasn't that good,' or `We won't let that happen.' "

Veteran linebacker Willie McGinest said, "We'll watch the games and get some information from them. We're looking for certain things, certain keys. But you don't play everybody the same, so some of these teams will play us different than what we'll see on TV."

Christian Fauria, Tedy Bruschi, and Joe Andruzzi each have three children. Their TV game days are different from those of their bachelor teammates. Even during the playoffs.

Bruschi plans to be in bed, rolling around with his two oldest sons.

"My kids get fired up when we watch football,' he said. "We're all wrestling in bed and during timeouts we'll be tackling each other.

"I think it's important to watch the games. To see what wins and loses playoff football. This is a quest for a Super Bowl championship and you need to see what's done right and what's done wrong. Whether you're a young player or an older player, you look at it and learn from it."

"I don't make any plans to watch the games," said Fauria. "I really don't want to watch it. I don't want to be motivated either way, until we know who we're playing. Sunday I'll be outside doing something with the kids. I haven't set up in front of the TV with the popcorn since I was in high school. If I tried to do that now, my kids would start throwing things at me."

Andruzzi added, "This is time with my family. If we're home, it will be on, but if we're not home, we're doing something else. I'm not planning my day around it. I'm a football fan and everything, but we haven't had time off for a while so I'll spend this time with the kids."

Then there's Adam Vinatieri, who plans to watch every down on his 90-inch home-theater TV screen.

"The more familiar we are to what they are doing, the more advantage it gives us," said the kicker. "I'll have a little bowl of popcorn or something like that and I'll be watching it pretty closely to see special team stuff, what I'm going to be facing. Obviously we get film that is a little more detailed, but I can still see things."

The wounded Richard Seymour will take time to watch between treatments.

"I'm a big fan of the National Football League," said the thoughtful lineman. "I enjoy watching football. Just to sit back and not being the one getting pounded on or trying to pound someone. I like to watch it on the high-def where you can see the sweat rolling off them.

"It's always good just to watch it from a fan's perspective. Last year when we had our bye, the Cowboys played the Panthers in Charlotte and that's only 50 miles away from my home so I went to the playoff game and got to see it from a different angle, a different perspective. I've never been in that type of environment. I've always been the one out there playing it."

Today Seymour and his teammates will be in the same environment as Patriot fans. They'll be with their families, eating food, camped in front of big screens, plasmas, and home theaters. They'll be watching Peyton Manning perform surgery on the Broncos. Just like you.

And just like you, they think they'll be playing the Colts next Sunday. They're just not alllowed to talk about it until after the Colts beat the Broncos.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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