FOXBORO, Mass. — 40 below zero? Sounds like beach weather for Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher.
A slight exaggeration aside, this weekend's absurdly cold weather in Chicago won't rattle Fletcher, who earned his stripes — or, icicles — growing up as a hockey and football player in Montana.
So, this likely won't be the first time he's played in a game when wind chills have dropped the temperature to -40 degrees. He recalled one game when it was -14 degrees, but that didn't include the wind chill.
Anyway, it sounds like there's been a big moratorium on sleeves for this weekend's game against the Bears, not that it would affect Fletcher's status, though. The rookie linebacker has never worn them, and he admitted to knowing he's got an immediate mental advantage on anyone who bundles up during less-than-ideal weather.
"I'm never a sleeve guy," Fletcher said. "I've definitely always felt like I've got something on top of somebody when it's cold out."
The Patriots have gotten a cold-weather appetizer this week in preparation for the Windy City's elements. While the Patriots practiced indoors Wednesday — a walkthrough session that was more focused on teaching and installation — they endured two of the coldest days of the year during practices Thursday and Friday.
It's a mentality that takes some preparation, and wide receiver Wes Welker joked that he was planning to stuff himself inside the Gatorade refrigerator in the Gillette Stadium locker room. While that creates a hilarious visual, it still probably wouldn't be as cold as it's been outside in the open air.
"The main thing is just practicing in it, so make sure you're getting used to practicing in it, getting ready for it," Welker said. "If I wear sleeves, you know it's cold. I'm not saying I'm going to, but if I do, it means it's for my health."
A few weeks ago, safety Patrick Chung was preaching prior to practice about shedding sweatshirts and enduring the elements. It's that state of mind that the whole team is trying to adopt this week. As long as it's not a health risk, it sounds like the Patriots will keep their sleeves in the drawer.
"It's a mental thing," Chung said. "If I go out there thinking it's not cold, it's not going to be cold. That's just how I am.
"We'll see. Negative 40, I might change my mind."