"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
That quote by Nietzsche seems to capture the general tone out of Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, as the New England Patriots prepare to face the Denver Broncos. The players are clearly ready to move on from Monday's dispiriting loss to the Carolina Panthers, and so is Bill Belichick. Suffering a defeat like that can only help a team in the long run. More than ever before, the Patriots now know that one single play can't entirely decide a game.
Quotes of the Day
It is what it is
As you would expect, Bill Belichick was asked about the controversial non-call at the end of their loss to the Carolina Panthers. Belichick, who seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, appeared agitated and replied, "We're on to Denver." After a follow-up question, he repeated himself, and when asked a third time if he got an explanation, Belichick sighed and said, "We're working on Denver."
Well, that settles that. It's time to move on. As much as last week's loss stings, the Patriots need to get ready for arguably their toughest opponent of the season in the Denver Broncos. Belichick's bad mood is understandable when you consider he has had to play catch-up since this is a short week for the Patriots.
When quarterback Tom Brady was asked about his final thoughts on the non-call, he joked and said, "My mom thought it was a penalty, does that count?" Yes, it does, Tom, because everyone and their mother knows that it was a penalty. Okay, now that's over with, on to Denver.
Brady expects Welker to play
Tom Brady was interviewed by WEEI this morning and had this to say about Wes Welker, who suffered a concussion this past week: "I've been around [Welker] long enough to know what he's all about," Brady said. "He loves playing football, and if there's a chance for him to play -- especially coming back here -- he's definitely going to be out there. I've got no question about that."
Even though an active Wes Welker increases the Broncos' chances at winning, I would be tremendously disappointed if he didn't play on Sunday. Not only would it be nice to see Wes back in Foxboro, but I also think the crowd would get extra loud, which seems to be rare this season. Maybe Welker catching some balls wouldn't be such a bad thing if it means it can get the home crowd into the game, potentially making things more difficult for Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
Vereen levels up
Running back Shane Vereen has been a monster in his two healthy games this season, totaling 30 touches and 231 yards. Tom Brady was asked about Vereen's role in the offense and he had glowing words for the third-year back, "Since the middle of last year he has emerged and developed in that role [as a pass-catching back]." Brady explained his development, "He got to learn from Kevin [Faulk] for a little bit, Danny [Woodhead] was here to help last year, but he's really taking it on this year. I think the best part is that he really understands the magnitude and the importance of that role."
"He [Vereen] gets single coverage, he gets out, it's a typical position because you're blocking, you have to run the ball, you have blitz pickup, and then you got to get out in a route, catch the ball, and then do something with it. He can do all those things." In other words, Tom Brady said about Shane Vereen, "He's a very, very, very good player."
Dennard, Gregory return to practice
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard unfortunately had a small meniscus procedure this past weekend and will be out a few weeks, but he was surprisingly on the practice field today. The second-year corner was moving around extremely gingerly according to several reports, but it's encouraging to know that he was back on the field today. It is unknown if he was wearing a cast on his knee.
Safety Steve Gregory was sporting a hard cast on his right thumb during today's practice, his first since breaking the thumb two weeks ago. It was assumed that the eight-year safety would be out for 2-to-4 weeks, and he is still likely to miss this Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos, but it's possible that his return could come ahead of schedule considering the other injuries in the secondary.
Talib banged up, but practices
After reinjuring a hip that kept him out for three weeks, it wouldn't have been surprising if cornerback Aqib Talib missed Wednesday's practice. However, the star corner was present and looked to be moving fairly well. He is clearly not 100 percent, but it is crucial that he plays on Sunday against one of the best offenses in the game.
HooMan is the only absence
The lone absentee from Wednesday's practice was tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. The 25-year-old tight end hurt his knee during Monday night's loss against the Carolina Panthers. If HooMan is out on Sunday, expect tight end Matthew Mulligan and fullback James Develin to receive more snaps.