By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (CBS) — The next time we hear from the New England Patriots, they’ll either be celebrating under a confetti shower or hanging their heads in a concrete concourse in the bowels of U.S. Bank Stadium. For now, the talking is over.
Upon the completion of Thursday afternoon’s session with the media, the Patriots had officially fulfilled their speaking obligations for the week. And after spending an hour handling the goofy questions at Monday’s “Opening Night,” and after talking for close to an hour each day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it doesn’t seem as though they’ll miss having the requirement to sit in front of microphones.
“This is necessary,” linebacker Kyle Van Noy said to kick off Thursday’s session. “This is definitely annoying, but it’s part of the job.”
Catching an incredulous face or two around him, Van Noy followed up: “I keep it 100.”
Despite the excessive time spent answering questions from media members who hail from all around the world, Van Noy — who played 61 percent of New England’s defensive snaps to help win last year’s Super Bowl — said it never interferes with his focus for the game.
“It’s always about the game,” he said. “I’m locked in.”
Fullback James Develin, who had the unfortunate spot of sitting at the podium next to the overcrowded Tom Brady podium, said the same.
“We’re pretty focused on football already,” said Develin, who’s won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. “We come in and we do our media things. But no, we know that when it all boils down at the end of the week, it’s just football, man. And that’s what we’re focused on.”
Head coach Bill Belichick finds himself guiding his team through this process for the eighth time since 2001. Like his players, Belichick downplayed any sort of change for the team once the media responsibilities come to an end.
“I think there’s energy every day,” Belichick said. “Each game’s different, each week’s different, each team’s different. So I don’t know what the answer to that question is. It just depends on your team and where you’re at and how your team responds to each event that you do. And we do it a little differently every week, depending on who our opponent is and what our needs are for that game. So they’re not really all the same. Hopefully it’ll turn out that we’ll have high energy and our best performance will be on Sunday.”
The Patriots, for their part, have been loose throughout the week, and many players were relaxed on Thursday. But there was also a sense from many players that they were happy for the media sessions to be over, and that some of them had just run out of things to say. Alan Branch chuckled heartily when asked a question by a reporter after already being told by a team staffer that he was free to leave. Elandon Roberts was only looking to take questions about the game itself. Sitting in a room that was basically just concrete and lights, backup offensive linemen seemed to be counting the seconds until they no longer had to sit in the unheated room at unoccupied tables.
They’ve said everything they could ever possibly say. And more. Now it’s time to play the game.