FOXBORO (CBS) – The Patriots were at full strength and they were outdoors at practice on Tuesday.
The Patriots practiced in pads for the first time in over a week.
Sebastian Vollmer and Logan Mankins, both of whome have been absent the last couple of weeks, were back at a practice.
Also on the field was newly acquired offensive assistant Josh McDaniels. He was out there talking and laughing with Bill Belichick.
DEVIN McCOURTY SPEAKS
As the Patriots get ready for their first playoff game of this season, the players are happy with they got the rest, but extremely excited to get on the field and start playing.
Devin McCourty was one of four people the Pats brought to the podium on Tuesday.
Tebow is becoming a better passer: “That pass to Eddie Royal was a small window to get it in there, and it was a pretty good throw,” McCourty said. As for Tebow’s makeup, McCourty described it as unique. “He does so many different things well – running the ball, throwing the ball,” McCourty said. “He’s just dynamic, and when he runs the ball he’s tough to bring down. So, he’s definitely a different type of quarterback.”
Broncos usind the deep ball: “They’ve made some changes, you can definitely see with the last game,” he said. “Just taking more shots down the field, they threw some balls up there and they got some guys that can come down with them and catch them. They definitely threw some more vertical passes.”
Denver Receiver Demaryius Thomas is tough: “He’s a physical guy. He’s a big receiver, and you’ve got to really compete against him,” McCourty said. “If he catches the ball, he’s going to be a tough guy to bring to the ground. I think we watched him in the first game, and what we thought, it played out. He’s a physical guy, had some pretty good catches in that game, and at times he was tough to bring down.”
VINCE WILFORK SPEAKS
If there is a grizzled veteran on that Patriots defense, Vince Wilfork fits that description. The Pats defensive tackle has been a team leader since he was drafted. He spoke to the media Tuesday and talked about getting ready for Denver and Tim Tebow.
Gang tackling Tebow and the Denver skill players: “We can’t depend on one guy to try and make a play or bring down these guys,” he said. “I think you’re gonna need two, three, four guys around the ball at all times to be successful, to be a good tackling team. … I think the success that people have tackling, you see a lot of gang tackles. That’s intimidation, that’s what that is. One guy, that’s tough, they get paid just like we get paid, so the more people we can get to the ball, get around the ball, the better we’ll be.”
Tebow’s has some strengths: “I mean, he’s just a tough, tough guy to prepare for. You can speak all day about how tough he is, and how elusive he is, but it really don’t matter until you face him. And when you face him, you really figure out, ‘Man, this dude is like a running back’. He’s a big dude, a strong guy. I know we talked about it, but I didn’t realize. He’s just a physical guy, his stature, just a big guy. I’ve seen some big guys over the years, but he’s probably one of the biggest and toughest, probably one of the strongest, that I’ve faced.”
It will be the first playoff game for Patriots running back Stevan Ridley. The rookie was at his locker Tuesday and talked about not letting the playoff moment get to him. He believes it’s business as usual and making sure that they finish every play strong.
On first playoff game: “Ready. Going to work. We’re getting there. We’ll start off today with a good practice, [hoping] to get the week off to a fast start, and rolling into this thing Saturday and hopefully coming out the way we want to.”
Playoff atmosphere or ‘just another game’?: “Coach Bill puts so much emphasis on each week. We don’t look ahead or behind. We look at that upcoming game, so it’s another game to us. That’s how we’re treating it. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere. It’s going to be a big-time game, but we’re going to go out there and just play football, stay calm, and try to go out there and play a sound football game.”
Thought on Broncos defense: “The defense is solid and has been doing good things for them. I think that’s what they really don’t talk about much. It’s a lot about Tebow, but not so much about their defense. They’re playing sound football all the way around, all three phases.”
Tune in to the Patriots-Broncos playoff game Saturday night at 8pm on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV. Pregame coverage begins Saturday at 5pm with Patriots Preview on 98.5, with a special edition of Patriots GameDay on WBZ-TV at 7pm. After the game, stay tuned for Patriots Postgame on The Hub, and Patriots 5th Quarter on WBZ-TV.