Patriots notebook

A good show by Belichick

Movie diversion gets thumbs-up

Junior Mints for him
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / August 26, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - Bill Belichick gave his players a break from their usual film-watching this week, surprising them with . . . a film.

But it wasn’t just any film: the players went on a field trip (of sorts) Wednesday night, to the Showcase Cinemas at Patriot Place, for a screening of “The Fighter,’’ the acclaimed movie based on the life of Lowell native Micky Ward.

And Ward was on hand to speak with the players, passing on his message of perseverance.

“Oh man, it was great,’’ said Andre Carter, one of a few Patriots players who do boxing workouts in the offseason. “To compare boxing with football - you can’t. It’s just like apples and oranges.

“I think boxing itself, especially when it comes to that level of competition, it’s just inner will. To see the movie overall, it was great, and to meet the actual man behind the film was great as well.’’

Carter said Ward’s words are helpful for anyone, not just athletes.

“He was going through adversity being a boxer, outside distractions with family, people telling him he wasn’t capable of doing something special,’’ said Carter, “but he fought against the odds and he believed in himself and he had positive people that really cared for him.

“That’s like anything, whether sports or life in general: If you believe in yourself and you have positive people around you, sky’s the limit.’’

Belichick wouldn’t say he was trying to send a message to his players, but he did feel they deserved a reward for the effort they’ve put in.

“Look, we’ve been in camp for a long time, been watching a lot of film at night - practice film, opponent film, and everything, so we decided to go to the movies to make it a little more enjoyable,’’ he said. “Popcorn, candy out there, let them relax a little bit.

“Sometimes your teams work hard and they deserve a break from the normal routine. I think they enjoyed it. It was a good night.’’

For the record, Belichick’s theater candy of choice is Junior Mints.

Sanders has the feel James Sanders has gotten off to a slow start. He began training camp on the non-football injury list, practiced for a couple of days, then was back on the sideline until Monday. But he took part in the four practices this week, and is eager to put on the pads in Detroit tomorrow.

“I’m just looking forward to it, just the opportunity to be out on the field with the guys and getting the opportunity to play in a game,’’ he said. “I haven’t had the opportunity to play in a game this preseason yet and I’m excited and ready to go.’’

It is a plus for the 28-year-old safety that this is his seventh season with New England, so nothing is new to him, although he is still catching up physically.

“I’ve missed a lot,’’ he said. “The thing that’s helped me is that I’ve been in the system for a while. Mentally, I know a lot of the defenses, a lot of plays, so I’m just trying to go out there and get my game legs, my football legs back underneath me.’’

Vereen on verge Rookie running back Shane Vereen returned to practice this week after missing a significant chunk of time because of a hamstring injury. He said yesterday he isn’t quite 100 percent, but he’s getting close. He was unsure whether he’d see his first preseason action tomorrow . . . The Patriots were missing 14 players during the media portion of practice yesterday; players were in shorts and shells. Albert Haynesworth practiced for the third consecutive day. Those who were missing: RB Stevan Ridley, CB Leigh Bodden, RB Kevin Faulk, DB Malcolm Williams, RB Eric Kettani, LB Jeff Tarpinian, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Brandon Spikes, OL Marcus Cannon, OL Ryan Wendell, DL Brandon Deaderick, LB Jermaine Cunningham, DL Ron Brace, and DL Mike Wright . . . Belichick said the team had not yet altered any plans for tomorrow’s game because of Hurricane Irene.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.

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