|Tom Brady and the Patriots were on the practice field in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Colts, but only for a walkthrough. (Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)|
Belichick sets record straight
Opponents' mark just doesn’t matter
FOXBOROUGH - Repeat after Bill Belichick: Records. Don’t. Matter.
The Patriots coach was determined to make the point yesterday that despite the Colts being 0-11, they are still a talented team, and regardless of whether the Patriots are 8-3, when the ball is kicked off Sunday afternoon, it won’t play into the result.
It is impossible not to know that the Colts have yet to win a game, but Belichick’s players know the drill.
“They’ve heard me talk about it every week, saying we don’t care about the record, and we don’t,’’ Belichick said. “What difference does it make? Look, how somebody played two weeks ago against somebody else, who cares? Us or anybody else. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is how we and the Colts perform against each other on Sunday. That’s all that matters. Who cares who won three weeks ago in some other game against some other players? It doesn’t matter.
“We talk about it every . . . It doesn’t matter. There’s 16 games on our schedule, they’re all the same. It’s our team against that team that week and we look at, try to learn about our opponent and scout them and pick up tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, and all that, but how we match up against that team that day is all that matters.
“The rest of it is just a bunch of garbage. You guys can write about it all you want, it doesn’t matter. I mean, really. The winner of this game will be decided by which team plays better on Sunday, not what happened four weeks ago. It’s like that every week. Every week.’’
Belichick continued that the Patriots judge themselves on performance, what they do well and what they need to improve on.
A reporter started to ask Belichick if he could really gauge whether his team is improving when it plays against a squad that isn’t showing any improvement (Indianapolis has scored just 150 points and given up 327, and ranks near or at the bottom of the league in several other statistical categories), and he didn’t let her finish before delivering his strongest words.
“I don’t agree with that, so go ahead on your soliloquy, but I just don’t agree with that,’’ he said. “You don’t think you can gauge a team based on how a player blocks Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis? I mean, who else could you gauge it against? Are you kidding me? Covering Reggie Wayne and [Austin] Collie and [Pierre] Garcon - you don’t think you can gauge your coverage based on those players?
“I don’t care what their record is. You don’t think there’s better receivers around than them, better pass rushers than Freeney and Mathis? I’m not sure what games you’re watching here.’’
Belichick clearly wants to send a message to his team that this is a not a week to take off, no matter how tempting it may be, and he took advantage of his news conference as one way of doing so.
Out for a walk
Yesterday’s practice was a walkthrough, a bit of a surprise, but perhaps not when you look at the injury report.
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was the only player who did not take part. He left last Sunday’s victory at Philadelphia after sustaining a right ankle injury in the second quarter. He was also still listed on the injury report with the back issue that has plagued him for much of the season.
A league source said Vollmer will be out for “a while’’ because of the ankle injury.
Dane Fletcher (thumb), who had not practiced since before the Week 7 bye, was back on the field. Brandon Spikes, who has missed the last three games with a medial collateral ligament sprain, was also on the field though he was not wearing a practice jersey.
Also limited were: Patrick Chung (foot), James Ihedigbo (shoulder), Devin McCourty (shoulder), Dan Connolly (groin), Ryan Wendell (calf), Matt Light (ankle), Chad Ochocinco (hamstring), and Taylor Price (hamstring).
With Connolly and Wendell nursing injuries, reserve lineman Donald Thomas and practice squad center Nick McDonald snapped to Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer during practice.
The Colts declared Peyton Manning (neck) and tight end Dallas Clark (fibula) out for the game, and seven players did not practice yesterday, including Freeney (day off), guard Ryan Diem (knee), and center Jeff Saturday (knee).
Other side of the story
Wednesday is the day the head coach and one player from the opposing team take part in a conference call with local media, and before coach Jim Caldwell got on the phone, a Colts media relations staff member announced he would not talk about the team’s decision on Tuesday to fire defensive coordinator Larry Coyer and replace him with linebackers coach Mike Murphy.
But Caldwell was asked if the change in coordinators will lead to a change in the defense.
“I’m not going to go into all the things that are going to be changes and what those changes are,’’ Caldwell said. “We just have to be able to play better. That’s our key, that’s obviously the main point behind it, is that we have to get to the point we’re playing consistently well defensively.’’
The Colts are the “leaders’’ to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, but Caldwell wouldn’t consider the idea with five games left on the schedule.
“There’s a time to talk about those things, when the season’s over with, and there’s a time to focus and play football, and that’s what we’re doing,’’ he said. “We’re trying to get our team better. That’s our only goal at this point in time - trying to get ready for a great team that we’re facing this Sunday.’’
The Patriots signed defensive back Nate Jones, originally a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys out of Rutgers in 2004. Jones has played in 101 career games with Dallas, Miami, and Denver.