No rest during week off
At practice, Patriots try to look ahead
FOXBOROUGH — Ordinarily, a bye week allows an NFL team to rest, recuperate, and focus on the fundamentals of the game.
For the Patriots, though, this bye week has been anything but ordinary. Two days after beating the rival Dolphins in Miami, star receiver Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings for a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.
On Thursday, players were besieged with questions about Moss’s sudden departure, his three-plus seasons with the Patriots, and how the offense could survive the loss.
In an attempt to explain his decision to trade Moss, coach Bill Belichick, during an impromptu news conference, addressed the impact of the transaction on the team, emphasizing his confidence in the players remaining on the roster.
“I think if they continue to work hard and improve, then we’ll be competitive, we’ll be able to win games,’’ he said. “And that’s what we’re here to do, win games. We’ve won more games than any other team in the last decade. I hope we can continue to win them going forward. That’s what we’re here for.’’
It was quieter around Gillette Stadium yesterday, and the team will take today and tomorrow off before continuing the process of moving on without Moss, and preparing for a visit by the Baltimore Ravens Oct. 17.
“We understand the business,’’ linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said yesterday. “It’s a business. We had to go our separate ways.’’
Asked if Moss’s departure puts added pressure on the defense, Banta-Cain replied, “We always feel pressure as a defense to go out there and stop teams from scoring points. Obviously, Randy was a huge weapon for us, so hopefully the guys feeling the pressure are the guys having to step up behind Randy and fill those shoes. We’ve just got to go out and keep doing our job. We’re confident in the guys we have.’’
Moss, however, could still factor in the Patriots’ battle with the Jets for AFC East supremacy. The teams are tied atop the division at 3-1, and Moss’s first game with the Vikings will be against the Jets at the Meadowlands Monday night. Moss and the Vikings visit Gillette Stadium Oct. 31.
Asked if he thought Moss might deliver his former New England teammates a fitting parting gift by helping the Vikings defeat the Jets, Banta-Cain replied, “Yeah, that would be nice if he could help us get back in first [place alone].’’
Then it will be back to preparing for the Patriots’ next opponents: the Ravens, the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season.
“This is an important game for us because, obviously, last year that was the end of our season — Baltimore,’’ Banta-Cain said. “They’re playing well this season, so it’s not going to be an easy win. We’ve got to make sure we’re not too high off last week’s win. We’ve still got to get back to playing fundamental football and really making sure that we play our ‘A’ game against Baltimore.’’
That’s what the bye week is for.
“You get a chance to watch a little more film on previous games. You get to look at some of the plays that might have hurt you in previous weeks, even in the preseason,’’ Banta-Cain said.
“Some of the stuff that coaches might not have been able to coach up as much, they have a little extra time to focus on certain things like that. That would be the biggest thing. And then also, as far as reps, it gives guys a chance to maybe get a little more work in practice and get some other guys some looks to see how they can help us in the future.’’
If there was a silver lining to the Moss trade, it was that it happened during the bye week. When the Ravens come to town, the Patriots will be all business.
“It’s good that it did happen now as opposed to leading into the Baltimore game because it has already kind of caused somewhat of a distraction,’’ Banta-Cain said. “But we’ll get to watch him play this Monday night against the Jets. We’ll be rooting for him.’’