FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots arrived Monday at Gillette Stadium with a little extra pep in their step.
After five and a half weeks of training camp and preseason, they've finally entered regular-season mode as they dove into their preparations for the Dolphins. They had the weekend off, though some players reported to the facility to watch film, and had their first practice of the week Monday.
"Yeah, it's about time," defensive lineman Vince Wilfork said about his readiness for the season. "It's been a tough camp, and now it's time to move forward to the Dolphins. We have our plate full. I know one thing, I'm pretty sure they'll be ready to go — Monday night, home game for them, getting off to a good start down there. So it's a test for us, going on the road, division game, so I'm pretty sure the fans are going to be pretty excited. The Dolphins are going to be pretty excited, and hopefully we can match their intensity. So that's where we're at. We're getting started. It's about time it's here, and we have to put everything into this week."
The practice field was a lot more barren than it had been since the Patriots reported to camp July 29 due to the mass of roster cuts over the weekend, which served as a sign that the real work is about to begin.
"You made the team, and it's time to go," safety Patrick Chung said. "It's time to play football, so let's go."
The aura of playing on Monday Night Football has definitely added to the excitement, as every player in the league loves that spotlight and a chance to make a play in front of all their friends and family. Plus, it's an AFC East game against a tough team in a difficult place to play. All of those factors have the Patriots ready to get out there for the real thing.
"I'm definitely fired up," tight end Rob Gronkowski said. "It's about to be the first game. We're starting up on Monday Night Football, so I'm definitely fired up."