|Running back Kevin Faulk was back at practice this week, taken off the PUP list. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)|
Taking a break from the huddles
FOXBOROUGH - After two days of work this week, the Patriots began a five-day break last night, with many eagerly looking forward to getting away from Gillette Stadium for some much-needed rest.
When the four preseason games are factored in, New England’s bye comes in the middle of its schedule: 10 games down, 10 regular-season games to go. But no matter where it falls, most are grateful for the time off.
“I think the answer to that, no matter where you are in the season, would be yes,’’ receiver Wes Welker. “Not only from a physical standpoint but a mental standpoint a lot of times, and it’s nice to get a few days to kind of relax and get away.’’
Bill Belichick wants the players to unplug from the football grind, then return ready to focus on their next opponent, Pittsburgh, and the rest of the season.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of those couple days to get some things out of the way that have piled up on all of us,’’ he said. Get some rest, get treatment, get some bumps and bruises taken care of, and come back with a full tank of energy.’’
Tight end Rob Gronkowski concurred.
“You definitely have to take your mind off of football a little bit, go and do something, go and relax and just have a good time. See some family, see some friends. You’ll think about football a little bit, but during the time you’re relaxing,’’ he said.
But as Welker noted, this break isn’t exactly like a vacation.
“It’s not like spring break when you’re in college or anything like that,’’ he said. “You still have to work out and still do some of those things, but not out there running routes and do all of those things on a daily basis, but making sure you’re still getting a lot of rest and a lot of sleep and not staying out late and doing some of those things and really take advantage of the time.’’
Safety Patrick Chung may have summed it up best.
“It is a time for you to just relax, think about relaxing, not worrying about all the other outside things, just easing your mind,’’ he said. “Sometimes you have to get your sanity back and then come back and get crazy again.’’
Nowhere to be seen
The Patriots practiced inside the Dana-Farber Field House, and were once again in shells and shorts or sweats.
There were four players not spotted: Tom Brady, Matt Light, Ras-I Dowling, and Dane Fletcher. All four were also not spotted during the media-access window on Tuesday.
Albert Haynesworth, who also was not spotted on Tuesday, was present yesterday during the media-access window.
Asked during his morning press conference about Brady not being present the previous day and whether it was just to give the quarterback some rest (Brady has taken every snap of the first six games and hadn’t missed a practice before this week), Belichick said he didn’t know who was and was not on the field on Tuesday.
“I didn’t take roll, so I don’t know. The guys who were out there were out there. The ones that weren’t, weren’t,’’ he said. “Only on the days we have to file it, then we’ll file it appropriately. Since [Tuesday] wasn’t one of those days, then some guys were out at the beginning, some guys went in, some guys came out later, and I don’t know.’’
A few minutes later, however, Belichick spoke of the return of Kevin Faulk, Ron Brace, and Brandon Deaderick to practice after they spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list, saying it was good to have them back on the field. So Belichick knew they were on the field, but claimed to be unsure of the whereabouts of the franchise quarterback.
Since the Patriots aren’t playing this week, they are not required to file a practice attendance/injury report with the league.
Words of wisdom
Belichick said he spoke with the rookies for about 40 minutes yesterday morning, something he does often.
“From the day they become a professional athlete, things change,’’ Belichick said. “They carry that with them wherever they go, whether it’s the bye week or any other week, so sure, those things are part of it. Once they’re drafted or once they sign a professional contract, to me it changes a little bit.’’
Tackle Nate Solder, who was in on the meeting, said Belichick’s message was “for us to get ready to finish out the season strong and do whatever it takes this week to finish the season strong.’’
Defensive back Ross Ventrone, who was released from the 53-man roster on Monday, was re-signed yesterday. It is the seventh transaction Ventrone has been involved in since coming to the Patriots as an undrafted rookie last year . . . Defensive back Sterling Moore was re-signed to the practice squad. He was also released on Monday, after being promoted from the practice squad Saturday and seeing time on special teams against the Cowboys.