BOSTON (CBS) – After enjoying a little rest and relaxation on their bye week, the New England Patriots are back on the field preparing for a Monday night showdown with the Carolina Panthers.

Special teams captain Matthew Slater joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh & Zolak on Wednesday, saying last week gave him a great chance to “recharge the battery — mentally and physically.”

Slater said he stayed away from any of the events put on by tight end Rob Gronkowski, and said as a captain he helped echo the team’s bye week expectations to the younger players. But that message comes from the top.

“Around here, there is a level of expectations that were set the day you walk into that building,” said Slater. “It goes without saying that guys need to understand that although we have time off here, our job isn’t done for this season and the meat of our work is left when we get back. The young guys have done a good job buying into the ‘Patriot Way’ since they got here, putting their nose to the grind and focusing on the task at hand.”

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As a veteran, Slater said it’s easier to get back into the swing of things following the bye. He’s not worried about others losing focus, because everyone knows they’ll have their hands full come Monday night in Raleigh.

“Carolina has been doing a tremendous job. I’ve been following them closely because [center] Ryan Kalil and I went to high school and we’ve stayed close over the years. They’re a team that is hot right now, and they’re doing a lot of things well,” said Slater. “We definitely have our work cut out for us.”

“Their defense is playing at an unbelievably high level right now — all three levels of their defense,” said Slater. “Their defensive line is so talented at getting pressure on the quarterback, their linebackers are athletic and make a lot of plays, and their secondary doesn’t give up many big plays.”

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“They’re playing well and have momentum. A lot of times it’s not who you play but when you play them,” said Slater. “They’re hot right now, winning five straight, and playing at home on Monday night, it’s going to be a tough game for us.”



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