Patriots Excited About Progress Despite Outside Concerns Over Loose Attitude


February 2, 2012

Patriots Excited About Progress Despite Outside Concerns Over Loose AttitudeINDIANAPOLIS — The Patriots have been uncharacteristically loose in front of the cameras this week, but the players have said they've been all business for the other 23 hours of the day.

And when head coach Bill Belichick is leading the laidback brigade, it can cause some to be alarmed. Yet, they've maintained they've put in great work behind the scenes, practicing hard and diligently studying film.

Their hour-long media sessions have simply given them the opportunity to wipe off their serious face for a while.

"The rest of the time has been serious," wide receiver Deion Branch said. "Coach, like he's been saying, this is a business trip, but at the same time, let's not go down here, bombard ourselves and think we've got to be serious all day every day. Relax and enjoy this moment."

As of Thursday morning — the final media session of the week with the players — the Patriots had conducted four of their six practices in the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, and they've been ahead of schedule with their preparation.

Belichick said they're still trying to clean up the minutia of each play — how the footwork can be perfect on this play, finding the right amount of depth on that play — but aside from that, he has sounded happy with the work they've done on the field.

The players have agreed, and that's been a common thread throughout the playoffs, when the Patriots have strung together a very strong run of practices. The tone for the week was also set Monday when Belichick put them on the field in full pads to spark the tempo.

"I feel like it's been pretty good progress," defensive lineman Kyle Love said. "We had a great two days of practice. The full pads was crucial. We needed that practice to get everybody use to the atmosphere and everything else, putting the pads on and all that good stuff. I feel it's been great."

"[The players] know when to get focused when it's time to play and when it's time to get serious about things," Branch echoed. "Since we've arrived, we've been focused. When we got off the plane, the next day, we practiced. Before we left, what coach instilled in us, I think we could have went and practiced when we arrived."

While the Patriots have typically been robotic with their media sessions during Belichick's tenure, the players haven't exactly been stoic or painfully boring. They've got a good mix of personalities in the locker room, and they're portrayed throughout the season.

However, since they're on the greatest stage in the world, the Patriots' looser than normal attitude has been highlighted over and again. That's caused some to wonder if they've broken from their routine or become overwhelmed by the moment.

Not so fast on that theory, they say.

"I think the guys' focus level is where it needs to be," said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, who has taken on a significant leadership role. "There's a lot going on outside of football. With this team you really didn't know how it was going to act towards it, but they've been real professionals about it. They've been just ready to roll every day. You can't ask for anything other than that, what they've been giving us. Everything's working out so well for us right now."

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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