BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots hit the practice field in Foxboro on Wednesday, and will now get some much-needed time off. Bill Belichick is letting his players enjoy the rest of their bye week, giving them four days of R&R before they get back to work.
That is a welcome respite from the rigors of an NFL season, and Patriots players are going to take full advantage.
“Rest. Rest and relaxation. I’m going to do nothing, and that’s what I look forward to doing — nothing,” receiver Phillip Dorsett said of his bye week plans.
Being away from Gillette Stadium for four days must sound like an eternity after spending much of their time at the stadium since training camp kicked off in late July. But Dorsett said he’ll probably get the itch to get back to football on Saturday or Sunday.
As for 10-year veteran Devin McCourty, he doesn’t expect to feel that urge.
“No itch. The itch won’t happen, but understanding 10 years in, I’ll still be getting my work in,” he said, adding that he’ll spend all his free time with the wife and kids. “But I won’t have an itch to get back and see all these ugly dudes in here. No rush.”
The Patriots may be 8-1, but based on the way players sounded on Wednesday, you’d think their record was flipped. That’s not a bad thing, as they know they’re far from perfect and have a lot of work left to do. They did some self-examination over the last three days, looking to fix the errors from Sunday’s 37-20 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore. When they return to work on Monday, they’ll be just as hungry as they were back when the season started in September.
“We’re 8-1, but eight wins doesn’t get you anything in this league,” said running back James White. “We still have a long way to go and a lot of football to be played. We can’t rely on eight wins if we want to be where we want to be at the end of the season. We have to continue to get better and these last seven games, we have to come out and give it everything we have.”
“We have a lot of hard work left in this season and a lot of guys who have been through that,” added McCourty. “Even last year, we weren’t in the same position now; we were 6-3, got beat pretty bad in Tennessee, but there was the understanding it’s a long season and we have to improve and get better. That doesn’t change this season, even being 8-1. Eight wins isn’t going to win anything in this league.”
When the Patriots return, the toughest part of their schedule will be waiting for them. New England will first travel to Philadelphia for a tilt against the 5-4 Eagles, a team that is also enjoying their bye this week. They then host the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys and their stellar defense, which currently ranks fifth in the NFL in points allowed. After a Sunday Night Football clash with Deshaun Watson and the 6-3 Houston Texans, the Pats welcome in the Kansas City Chiefs for an AFC title game rematch.
“It’s going to be tough,” Dorsett said of that four-week stretch. “We’re going into the tough part of our schedule and we know that. A lot of teams out of our division and a lot of good teams. We have a lot of work ahead and I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Wednesday’s practice, only two players were missing from the field: tight end Benjamin Watson and safety Patrick Chung.