FOXBORO, Mass. — Media crowds in the New England Patriots’ locker room this week have resembled those typically only seen late in the postseason.
The main attraction: superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, who signed with the Patriots on Monday and then was accused of sexual assault and rape in a civil lawsuit Tuesday.
Questions about Brown’s arrival, playing status and legal situation dominated news conferences and media scrums on Wednesday and Thursday, and since the team has yet to make the wideout available to speak with reporters, his new teammates have been the ones fielding those queries.
On Wednesday, quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Phillip Dorsett, special teamer Matthew Slater and safety Devin McCourty drew the largest crowds. On Thursday, it was Dorsett, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Duron Harmon handling most of the Brown talk, with occasional questions about the Patriots’ upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins sprinkled in.
Players aren’t accustomed to dealing with media circuses of this magnitude in Week 2, but they said the questions and uncertainty surrounding Brown have not taken the team’s attention away from Sunday’s matchup in Miami.
“It’s not a distraction,” Gilmore said. “We really just focus on what we have to do. That’s one thing about this team — we focus on our next opponent, and that’s Miami. We don’t let outside stuff distract us.”
Added Harmon: “It’s only a distraction if you allow it to be a distraction. We’re focused on the Miami Dolphins. We know Antonio is obviously a new member of the team, but he’s doing everything the right way. We’ve got to keep doing everything the right way, and we’ve just got to keep focused and moving forward.”