- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from the media-access period in the Patriots' locker room today:
1. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins, safety James Sanders, running back Shane Vereen, defensive end Andre Carter and receiver Deion Branch were among those speaking with large groups of reporters. Linebacker Ricky Brown also fielded some questions, some of which had him looking back on his days at Boston College (2002-2005).
2. Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was present in the locker room, shaking the hands of a few reporters. When reporters first arrived in the locker room, as players returned from practice, Haynesworth saw the big crowd at his locker and said he wouldn't be conducting any interviews.
3. Boxer Micky Ward's presence on Wednesday night, when the team went to the movies to watch "The Fighter" with him, was something several players were asked about Thursday. "Seeing the trials and tribulations that Micky Ward went through, it shows you that physically and mentally you can push yourself to levels that you think you may not be able to push yourself to," safety James Sanders said when asked what Bill Belichick might be trying to convey to the team. "I think it was him sending a message to the team -- it's training camp, things aren't always going to be going right, you have to be physically and mentally tough and try to push yourself through as hard as you can."
4. Belichick wasn't thrilled that word of Ward's visit was revealed Wednesday night. He reminded players that he'd prefer those type of things, harmless or not, be kept in-house.
5. Cornerback Leigh Bodden, who was limited to just seven snaps last Thursday in Tampa and has been held out of practice this week with an undisclosed injury, walked through the room. Doesn't appear to be anything too serious there, as Belichick had essentially said earlier in the week.
6. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski didn't want to reveal if he's now taking kickoffs, which would be the next step in his progression. Indications from others are that Gostkowski has indeed increased his workload this week, which increases the chances he will be kicking off Saturday night. UMass' Chris Koepplin has been handling kickoff duties up to this point.
7. Mankins views Saturday's preseason game as a good gauge of where the offensive line is at this point of camp. "We're looking forward to it. It's going to be a big test for the o-line; they have one of the better front-fours in the league, he said. "We'll get to see where we're at this week, if we can hold our own against them."