BOSTON (CBS) – Practices are nearly done, and their bags are all packed. The New England Patriots will soon be London bound.
After finishing their practice on Thursday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots will head to the airport for a 7p.m. red eye to London. A Sunday match-up with the St. Louis Rams at Wembley Stadium awaits.
While there will be a little sightseeing along the way, the Patriots have one thing in their mind for this trip across the pond.
“It is a business trip, and that’s what we’re going for. We’re going to play a football game, and that’s our number-one priority,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “It’s a trip where we have to be mentally prepared, for sure. We have to stay focused and make sure we’re there for our objective, which is to play football.”
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“(It’s) no big deal,” wide receiver Deion Branch said of the cross-continental journey. “The most important thing is we have a good game. The trip will be fun with a victory. Other than that, it’s a big game and we have to take care of business first.”
Even the rookies are holding suit. When asked if there would be any time to soak in what London has to offer, Chandler Jones kept it simple.
“Business trip. Business trip,” he repeated.
The Patriots will arrive in London early Friday morning and get the day off. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will both speak to the media after landing, but Belichick called Friday a “transition day” for his team as they get acclimated to the time difference and life in London.
“We’re going to do some things and just try to get re-acclimated to our normal body schedule,” Belichick said Thursday morning. “Try to get back on a Friday schedule if you would, so that Saturday can be a normal Saturday for us.”
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The Patriots took care of their normal Friday preparations on Thursday. The Rams on the other hand have been overseas all week.
New England receiver Brandon Lloyd went to London in 2010 with the Denver Broncos and had the same travel plans as the Patriots. He doesn’t foresee any issues from leaving later in the week.
“I had no issues,” Lloyd recalled. “I got as much sleep as I felt I needed. The body naturally does what it needs to do. We have some time in case you want to pass out for six hours to get ready for meetings, there is time for that.”
The Patriots head overseas at 4-3, first place in the AFC East but far from where they expect themselves to be. After Sunday’s game, they’ll have their bye week, a chance to look back on the first half of the season and reflect on what’s gone right, and more importantly, what has gone wrong.
But first up, they have the St. Louis Rams to contend with. Although just 3-4 on the season, they are led by head coach Jeff Fisher, who always has a tough game plan against the Patriots.
That starts in the secondary for St. Louis, who will try to slow down Tom Brady and company.
“They’re aggressive, very athletic,” Lloyd said of the St. Louis secondary. “They’re a young defense, and they do a great job keeping eyes on the quarterback when balls are up there.”
The last thing the Patriots want to do is head into their bye with a loss, giving Bill Belichick two weeks to break down what would be a 4-4 football team.
“It’s never good going in (to the bye) with a loss, especially with the coach we have,” said tight end Aaron Hernandez. “I’m sure we’ll be fine as long as we follow the game-plan, work hard, and play Patriots football.”
Tale of the Tape: Patriots-Rams
Tune in to the Patriots-Rams game Sunday afternoon at 1pm on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pregame coverage beings at 11am on the Hub with Patriots Preview, with three hours of post game coverage following the game. WBZ-TV kicks off their coverage at 11:30am with a special edition of Patriots All Access, and full post game coverage with Patriots 5th Quarter.