BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots have plenty on their plate leading up to Thursday night’s game against the Jets.
And we aren’t even talking about the Thanksgiving feast.
The Patriots and Jets have just a couple days to prepare for Thursday’s tilt, which shouldn’t be a problem given the familiarity they have with each other, though that was quickly dismissed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Tuesday. Both teams are also making little of the quick turnaround, saying it’s something each side has to deal with it.
“We’re just trying to prioritize our time; we don’t have much of it,” Brady said on Tuesday. “Hopefully everyone is spending their time wisely, not playing video games and stuff like that, trying to understand our plan and what we need to do. It’s a very tough place to play. We’ve always played this team very tough. It should be a fun night.”
While Thursday’s game will come quick, on one end Wes Welker was hoping for an earlier Turkey Day game.
“It’s always exciting to play on Thanksgiving,” said Welker, who enjoyed an eight-catch, two touchdown game against the Detroit Lions back on Thanksgiving Day in 2010. “I wish it was an earlier one, but it is when it is. It gives us a little more time to prepare and get ready, and hopefully we play well.”
The biggest challenge for the Patriots will be adjusting to life without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who will miss 4-8 weeks with a broken forearm. Gronkowski underwent surgery on Monday and was seen at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, but the Patriots have little time to sulk over losing one of their best offensive players.
“I just honestly have been thinking about the Jets; I haven’t been thinking about when he’s coming back,” Brady said of Gronkowski. “He’s not playing this week, so we have to go out there and win without him. There are a lot of guys who are capable of making plays for us, and that’s where my attention is focused: the guys that are going to try to help us win this game.”
“It’s called a team for a reason,” said running back Stevan Ridley. “Gronk is a vital part, but we have other teammates that have to step up and get that job done. That’s what we’re going to try the best we can as a unit.”
“You always hate to see that, especially with a great play like him,” added Welker. “But other guys just have to step up, collectively making plays and making sure we do our jobs the way we should do.”
While the Jets have been disappointing this season and sit at just 4-6, the Patriots know they’ll be getting their best effort on Thursday night. These same Jets took them to overtime last month at Gillette, and are a healthy bunch this time around.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are firm believes that the season begins around this time of the year, and Thursday will be a great chance for them to not only separate themselves from the rest of the AFC East, but secure their spot among the top teams in football.
“You look at this as a chance to separate yourself from the rest of the pack,” said linebacker Jerod Mayo. “We’ve handled the Bills, now this is a game to separate us from the rest of the pack.”
It will also be new corner Aqib Talib’s first taste of the Patriots-Jets rivalry. But right now, after playing in his first game in over a month on Sunday, he’s just focused on being ready for Thursday.
“I’m just getting ready for the Jets, for the game. As the time goes along, you’ll get involved in the rivalry and all that,” he said. “Right now we’re just getting ready for the game.”
Tune in to the Patriots-Jets Thanksgiving night clash on 98.5 The Sports Hub at 8:20 p.m.! Pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m. with three hours of postgame coverage following the game.