New England Patriots practice despite blizzard, being on bye week
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick chanted “no days off” at the team’s Super Bowl parade last February, and Thursday was a good example of how he truly means it.
Despite blizzardlike conditions in New England and the Patriots being on their playoff bye week, Belichick required players to be at the facility for a regular day of work. The snow had yet to start falling when players arrived in the early morning, but by the time of their midmorning practice, it was whiteout conditions.
Players made the long walk from their locker room to the team’s indoor practice bubble, which was adventurous.
“That was a lot of wind. It would have been interesting if we played today,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “I don’t know what would have happened. It would have been tough, kind of like Buffalo had that one against Indy this year.”
Asked if he’s adapted to shoveling having been in New England for 18 years, Brady said, “It’s pretty tough. Car is tough. Everything is tough this time of year. Especially the cold. Everyone in New England is probably having a crappy day today. That’s part of it.”
Players were especially careful as they walked up and then down the metal set of bleachers to get to practice, mixing in some fun along the way.
“It was cold, windy, but they cleared a path for us, so fortunately we didn’t have to walk through the snow and get your feet all cold and things. A lot of snowballs thrown on that walk,” third-year defensive end Trey Flowers said. “Somebody got hit from a distance. It was a pretty good throw.”
Added core special-teamer Brandon King: “Everybody here’s working, so you’re just trying to bring some light into the day.”
Belichick’s philosophy has traditionally been to practice in the elements, with the thinking that the team could eventually be playing in them. He said early on Thursday, however, that moving inside was the best thing for the team as it prepares to host a divisional-round playoff game on Jan. 13 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans or Buffalo Bills (8:15 p.m. ET).
It was one of only a handful of indoor practices for the Patriots this season.
“It’s pretty nasty, but it was nice to be in the bubble,” Brady said. “These conditions, it’s been that kind of year here — abnormally cold. I think it’s been good for us to get out and practice in it, but today, it would have been impossible.”
That’s why King, who tied for second on the team with eight special-teams tackles, said Thursday’s practice wasn’t as bad as what players went through last week.
“You see all the snow, but it’s nothing like practice was with the negative-1, zero degrees, with all the wind blowing,” he said. “It’s still 30 degrees warmer than it was a week ago. It’s not that bad at all.”
Asked how much the bad weather conditions reflect the accountability of his team, Belichick wasn’t handing out compliments.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Every day is a work day.”