FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Keep both feet on the practice field before jumping on that plane. That was the general message as the New England Patriots practiced Thursday for the final time before getting four days off for their bye week.
The team practiced inside of Gillette Stadium, working on internal fundamentals while also getting in some early preparations for the Miami Dolphins, who travel to New England on Nov. 8. After the early-afternoon practice ended, the Patriots dispersed to all corners of the country and will return in time for Tuesday morning?s meetings.
?We?re looking forward to it,? said wide receiver Wes Welker of the bye week. ?We definitely want to have a good practice [Thursday] and make sure we don?t have one foot in the parking lot or anything like that. I?m definitely looking forward to getting a few days to see the family back home and things like that.?
Welker is returning to his home in Oklahoma to see his family, particularly his niece and nephew. Rest and relaxation seem to be on the agenda for everyone in the locker room, especially after returning from a trip to London.
?Any break is good,? said linebacker Gary Guyton, who is going home to Georgia this weekend. ?Coming from overseas, it?s a pretty good time right now. I can?t complain right now.?
Cornerback Leigh Bodden actually has some significant plans in the coming days. He is returning to his alma mater, Duquesne, which is inducting him into its Hall of Fame. Bodden was excited about the event, but after that is over with, he?ll also choose to lay low at home.
?They?re honoring me, putting me in their Hall of Fame,? Bodden said. ?I?m going to a dinner and get to see a lot of my old college teammates, and then I?ll probably go home for a couple of days and then get back to work.
?The bye week always comes at a good time," Bodden continued. "Take care of your injuries, get better, just get away from football a little bit and spend some time with your family. The bye week always comes at a good time. I?m just looking forward to everything that comes with it.?
Even though the Patriots are looking forward to their four-day vacation — the longest one they?ve had since July, and the longest one they?ll get until at least January — it?ll be easy to return to work next week with the proper focus. After all, the Dolphins are divisional opponents that are playing well. And they require a unique type of preparation.
Miami is 2-4 but has played increasingly well throughout the season, and it should be on point after last weekend?s game in New York against the Jets. The Dolphins? wildcat offense — with running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams taking the snaps from center and then breaking out into a variety of plays — gashed New England?s defense during the teams? first meeting in 2008.
While the Patriots improved in their rematch, Miami is at it again this season and has added new wrinkles to its scheme. As a result, the Dolphins rank second in the NFL with 170.3 rushing yards per game.
With that, there is hardly a need to worry about the Patriots looking lethargic after their time off.
?Miami is a good team,? said Guyton, whose speed will be of vital importance against the Dolphins. ?There are going to be some good teams [after the bye week] that are definitely a threat. I?ll sit back, but I?ll still study film while I?m actually home anyway.?
Added Bodden, ?No matter who we play, it?s always good to have an extra week of preparation, but that?s something that goes with the bye week. You get an extra week to prepare for a team that you?re facing. That?s good for us, and hopefully it?ll work out.?