FOXBORO (CBS) -The New England Patriots hit the practice field Wednesday afternoon, knowing they would have the next five days off.
After a 5-1 start to the season, it will be a much deserved (and needed) time away.
“I think you kind of put it out of you mind for a few days,” receiver Wes Welker said of the daily rigors of the NFL. “There’s so much every single day – football, football, football – so it’s kind of nice to get a few days to just kind of relax, spend time with family and friends. Just get away from it for a few days.”
“I might take a few days to sleep in a little bit,” said receiver Matthew Slater. “I’ll definitely come in here and stay active. You don’t want to go over the weekend and gain five or 10 pounds.”
“It is a time for you just to relax,” said safety Patrick Chung. “Just think about relaxing and not worrying about all the other outside things. Sometimes you need to get your sanity back, come back and get crazy again.”
Even head coach Bill Belichick admitted he would use the days off to relax a bit.
“I’ll definitely take a little bit of a break here in the next couple of days,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “Slow it down a little bit, and see if I can get caught up.”
Spending the extra time with family is a luxury these players will take advantage of. Defensive end Shaun Ellis is planning on taking his kids to school every morning.
“It’s definitely something you have to cherish. I’m looking forward to it, give (my wife) a chance to give her a break, let her sleep late,” said the 11-year veteran. “Being able to drop them off ‘alright see you later dad,’ it’s a changeup for them too.
“Just hang out with little man. Hang out with my son, chill out,” said Chung said of his weekend plans. “Take care of stuff, whether it’s personal or family, and ease my mind a bit. Because coming into the second stretch, it’s full steam ahead.”
Read/Watch: Faulk Returns To Practice
While the break comes at a time the Patriots are playing well, they will certainly enjoy the time away. Once they get back, all the focus will shift to the Pittsburgh Steelers, if it hadn’t already.
“We just take it in stride, knowing there is a job still at hand and be ready when we get back,” said Ellis.
“It’s not like spring break,” said Welker. “It’s more of everybody understanding that you still have your workout and still do some of those things, but you’re not out there running routes and doing all those things that you do on a daily basis.”
“As a football player you’re going to think about it,” Ellis added. “Think about your next opponent. Think about the things you did leading up to the bye, how you can get better.”
Stats: 2011 Patriots Stats
But the main point remains over the next five days: relax and get healthy.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of those couple days to get some things out of the way that have piled up on all of us,” said Belichick. “Like I said, get some rest, get treatment, get some bumps and bruises taken care of and come back with a full tank of energy.”
The Patriots will return to practice next Tuesday.