Patriots Return to Gillette Stadium to Lay Groundwork for Bye Week


Jan 3, 2012

FOXBORO, Mass. — After a day off, the Patriots got back to work Tuesday to lay the foundation for their bye week.

They cleaned up the tape from Sunday's victory against the Bills and ran through some meetings to get everything in order for the days ahead. The Patriots will practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to head coach Bill Belichick, before they likely take the weekend off.

New England's divisional round opponent is still very much up in the air, so the team can't really get a jumpstart on any one team in particular. Therefore, they'll use the next few days to settle some in-house issues — "self-scouting" is the fancier term — before really getting into their first postseason opponent.

Since this is the sixth time the Patriots have opened the playoffs with a bye under Belichick, the players are trusting he'll know how to best handle the luxury.

"He's got a lot of experience," right guard Brian Waters said. "I'm sure he has more experience than probably anybody on how to deal with this week, so I'll follow suit with whatever he wants to do. I'm sure it will be best for us."

The Patriots will host either the fourth-seeded Broncos, fifth-seeded Steelers or sixth-seeded Bengals next Saturday at 8 p.m. If the Bengals beat the Texans on Saturday night, they'll secure a divisional round trip to Gillette Stadium. But if the Texans win that game, the Patriots will draw the Broncos-Steelers winner.

Due to injuries and boatloads of playoff inexperience in that Texans-Bengals game, it's tough to feel sure about the winner, which makes it more difficult for the Patriots to anticipate their initial postseason opponent. That's why they'll spend plenty of time this week shoring up some of their own flaws, and Belichick has plenty of experience to draw upon.

"I think [the planning] is no different than training camp," Belichick said. "I think you look back on what you've done in previous years in training camp, previous years in bye weeks during the regular season, bye weeks during the postseason. In the end, I think what's more important is what's the best thing for this team, what this team needs, what we need to work on relative to some other year. But I think it's interesting to look back on [postseason bye weeks in previous years]. Maybe you get an idea or something comes to you that you're not thinking of right now that is stimulated by something that you've done in the past. So we've looked at it. I've definitely looked at this. But in the end, I think the decisions that we make are made in what is the best interest in this team."

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