FOXBORO (CBS) –The bye week came at a great time for the New England Patriots. After 13 grueling weeks of regular season action, on top of the preseason and training camp, the team finally had their week to rest up and get healthy.
It was even better timing for defensive back Adrian Phillips, who suffered a knee injury on one of the final plays of New England’s Monday night win in Buffalo in Week 13. He has been a key part to New England’s dominant defense, and losing him this late in the season would be a big blow to a secondary that has played so well.READ MORE: Bill Belichick Named NFL Executive Of The Year By PFWA
Phillips spoke with reporters at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, which is a good sign that he’ll be out there Saturday night when the Patriots visit the Indianapolis Colts.
“Everything has checked out pretty well,” Phillips said of his ailment. “At the time, I was like, ‘Oh crap!’ I didn’t want to get hurt or anything like that. You don’t know how severe the injury is or whatever it may be. Just taking it day by day and working with the training staff and going from there.”
Phillips said that New England’s bye week came at the perfect time, as the 9-4 Patriots gear up for the final stretch of the regular season.
“The bye week took a long time to get here but it came right on time. Being able to let our bodies heal up and to get away for just a little bit before this last push, everyone needed that,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve been grinding for so long.”
The bye week was a little shorter than usual, with the Patriots set to play Saturday night following their Monday night tilt against the Bills last week. But it still gave them ample time for the defense to do plenty of prep work on an extremely balanced Colts offense.
“They’re legit. That is a legit offense right there,” Phillips said of New England’s Week 15 opponent. “A few weeks ago when they played Buffalo, they ran all over them and had their way with them. They can air it out with the receivers they got, and a lot of people seem to have forgotten about [Carson] Wentz and what he is capable of. If you let him get going it’s going to be a long day for you.READ MORE: Revolution, Arsenal Reportedly Agreed To Terms For A Matt Turner Summer Transfer
“We have a tough challenge on our hands because it’s a balanced attack and they can really do what they want. We have to be on top of everything,” Phillips added.
While Wentz is having a solid season under center, with nearly 3,000 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes to just five interceptions, the real concern for the Patriots defense this weekend is running back Jonathan Taylor. He is the NFL’s leading rusher by a healthy margin with 1,348 yards (Cincinnati’s Joe Mixon is second with 1,036 yards) and also leads everyone with 16 rushing scores. He’s averaging 5.6 yards per carry and is always a threat to break a big run, with 10 rushes of 20-plus yards and three of 40-plus yards — including an 83-yard scamper against the Houston Texans in mid-October. He finished with 145 rushing yards that day, one of the four afternoons he’s eclipsed 140 yards on the ground this season.
For Phillips, it is no surprise that Taylor is atop the leaderboard in just about every rushing stat there is. The 5-foot-10, 226-pound back is not easy to bring down, and will have the New England defense on their toes all night Saturday.
“He’s a home run hitter and a guy who is not afraid of contact. As the game keeps going, he gets more physical,” said Phillips. “People don’t want to hit that when it comes to the third and fourth quarter, especially when they have a lead and he’s in his zone.
“If he knows you don’t want to hit him, it’s going to be a long day for you,” Phillips added.
While Phillips is no fun to tackle, don’t expect the Patriots just let him run wild. They sit atop the AFC thanks to their defense, and that unit isn’t about to change its mentality anytime soon.MORE NEWS: Brady Celebrates Roethlisberger Upon Steelers QB's Retirement: 'Ben Defied The TB12 Method'
“Once you get closer to the end of the season, it’s definitely winning time,” said Phillips. “We just don’t want to make the situation bigger than it is. Attack it like we have the last seven games, attack each week going forward like we attacked those; do what we do and know that we’ve prepared to the best of our abilities and just play ball.”