Despite Recent Departures, Patriots Primed for Opener


September 8, 2009

Despite Recent Departures, Patriots Primed for Opener FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Though the dust has barely settled from last week?s retirement of Tedy Bruschi and Sunday?s trade of Richard Seymour, the New England Patriots must force themselves to focus on the immediate future.

After all, the Patriots open the regular season Monday night against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, and they don?t need a repeat of 2003, when New England released safety Lawyer Milloy five days before the season opener against, of course, the Bills, who slapped them around by a 31-0 margin.

Six years later, the Patriots are much sturdier, a lot more mature and certainly more receptive to football?s business side. Plus, after a rigorous training camp that was designed to get a team primed for a Super Bowl run, it?d be hard to believe the Patriots would let their first game get away.

?The coaches have done an excellent job of making us compete during training camp and things like that, but the intensity has to pick up [for the regular season],? linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ?Game one, an AFC East game, it?s very important to us.?

It promises to be an emotional night for the Patriots, who are celebrating the start of their 50th anniversary season by hosting dozens of former players and introducing their all-time team during halftime. Bruschi will also be on hand, serving as the anniversary team?s honorary captain.

The Patriots are 6-3 in regular-season openers under head coach Bill Belichick, and they?ve won five in a row since that loss in Buffalo in 2003. The way they see it, they?ve got all the motivation they need with a division rival on the horizon. The transition from preseason to regular season — despite the rocky week the organization has had in between — should be seamless.

?As a veteran player, you know the difference between preseason and you know the difference between the regular season,? running back Kevin Faulk said. ?Every guy is giving 120 percent out there no matter if it?s preseason or the regular season. But at the same time, there?s just this sense of it?s the regular season and you?ve got to make it count. In our senses, we start off with an AFC East opponent, so that?s more motivation than anything.?

New England is coming off of one of its most successful preseasons of the Belichick era. With a 3-1 record — the only loss was because a late BenJarvus Green-Ellis fumble stopped a game-winning scoring drive — the Patriots seemed to be more intently focused on winning preseason games than in years past. Because of that, there?s less of a need to focus on the shift in intensity between the preseason and regular season.

?The guys went out to work every day, got better every day, even on the two-a-day practices,? Mayo said. "We were fortunate to have some pretty good weather, so we really didn?t have a problem with the practices. The guys have really gone to work with that attitude, no matter who?s here, who?s not, some guys missed practices, some guys were there for every practice, but we came to work every day.

?The main goal of the preseason is to get better. During the regular season, we?ll be doing more things that teams haven?t seen during the preseason. Hopefully, it all pays off.?

Previous Article

Patriots’ Defense Rests Squarely on Shoulders of Adalius Thomas

Next Article

Pirates Clinch 17th Consecutive Losing Season

Picked For You