FOXBORO (CBS) — The Patriots have a big game against the Bills coming up the day after Christmas, one that will leave the team juggling time with their family and getting ready for Sunday’s contest. But there was plenty of Christmas cheer at Gillette Stadium on Friday.

While many see Bill Belichick as somewhat of a Grinch, the Patriots head coach is making sure that his players have a little extra time to spend with their families on Christmas morning. Belichick revealed the team’s game plan for this weekend during his Friday morning Zoom call, one that will allow players ample time to wake up and open presents on Saturday morning.

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For 1pm home games on Sundays, the Patriots would usually report to Gillette Stadium for a Saturday morning meeting and then stay at the team hotel in Foxboro. For Sunday games that kick off in the afternoon window, the players don’t have to get to Gillette until later in the day on Saturday.

With Christmas on Saturday, Belichick is letting his players come in later in the day so they can enjoy their morning with their family.

“With this weekend, we’re going to do the Saturday afternoon meeting schedule,” Belichick explained Friday. “We’re pretty familiar with Buffalo and played them a couple of weeks ago. Not that there isn’t a lot of preparation to be done, but I feel like we’re in a good place and we can combine Saturday morning and Saturday night into one meeting on Saturday, and we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

That is great news to all the players with young kids at home, including some who will be spending their first Christmas as a father. That includes center David Andrews, tight end Hunter Henry and defensive back Adrian Phillips, all of whom have expressed excitement this week about spending Christmas with their little ones.

It helps that New England has several veteran players — and fathers — who have done this balancing act before.

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“We talk about that and I think some of our experienced veteran players – Matt [Slater], Devin [McCourty], [Dont’a] Hightower, [David] Andrews – they talk about it in their individual rooms and collective rooms; our preparations for the game, but at the same time, it’s an important day for our families and our kids, and it’s part of life,” said Belichick. “There is definitely a balance to it. It’s a different week than any other week in the year. Thanksgiving has a little relevance to it, but Christmas falls on a different day every year so it’s a little bit different.

“But I’ve been in the league for a while and been through a lot of Christmases. We know why we’re here but, but there is another part of life that goes on and that’s important too. It’s balancing and working things out as best you can,” he added. “Knowing we have a big game, a huge divisional matchup with Buffalo, and we’ve put a lot into the season and a lot is riding on the game — we all want to do the best we can at it while also balancing some other things this week.”

Players did a lot of gift exchanging in the locker room after Friday’s practice, which was held inside of Gillette Stadium. And it was a great day for Patriots offensive linemen, who received a visit from “Santa Mac.”

Rookie Mac Jones was very generous to the guys who do their best to keep him clean every weekend, though Ted Karras would not say what “Santa Mac” gave to them.

“He did an outstanding job. We got a big haul. I’ll let him explain what we got, but it was a myriad of items, each one better than the next,” said Karras. “One of the best efforts — especially by a rookie — to show his appreciation and wish us a Merry Christmas.”

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Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Bills game on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1pm, and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!

CBSBoston.com Staff