After practicing Wednesday, the Patriots ran through their final steps at Gillette Stadium before departing for a few days. The new collective bargaining agreement mandates all teams to have four consecutive days off during the bye week, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has given his team five days off, presumably for good behavior (an AFC East-leading 5-1 record) and an extra chance to rest up before a string of physical games against the Steelers, Giants and Jets.
Some players will travel to see family — Wes Welker is heading to Oklahoma, while Andre Carter is going to California, among many others who will leave the Foxboro area — but a number are just hanging out nearby. The best plans, they said, were not having any at all.
"It's not like spring break when you're in college or anything like that," Welker said. "You've still got to work out and do some of those things, but you're not out there running routes and doing all of those things that you do on a daily basis. Make 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 kind of taking advantage of the time."
Tight end Rob Gronkowski hadn't made plans as of Wednesday afternoon, but he said he'd get into something during his time off. Most importantly, he said he wanted to make sure he used the time wisely, though.
"Just chilling, work out, get my body right," Gronkowski said. "I've definitely got some bruises, some things and stuff. You've got to get stronger, get back in the weight room, get some lifting on the weights, get your body right, fix it all up. That's my plan. Get the body right."
Right guard Brian Waters is part of the NFLPA executive board that helped fight for the extra time off during the bye week, so he was pretty excited to take advantage of it. It was almost as if he was a proud parent Wednesday as everyone prepared for their five-day vacation.
"I think everybody is a little bit happy about it," Waters said. "I haven't heard any complaints yet."