AP Photo/J.Pat Carter
Patriots safety James Ihedigbo.FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With a Monday night game this week against the Chiefs, the Patriots essentially have an extra day of practice and media access. And for a team that preaches preparation, that extra day is a nice luxury. The flip side: kickoff feels like it might never come.
"[The extra day] definitely does help, but, honestly, guys are itching to play football," admitted safety James Ihedigbo. "We’re ready. We feel it’s been a long enough week. Guys are excited for Monday night."
If this were a normal Saturday, kickoff would be as little as 24 hours away (as rare as 1 p.m. games have been this season), but Monday's 8:30 p.m. kickoff is messing with everyone's routine.
"I have my same gameday routine and I’ll stick to that like it's a normal Sunday," Ihedigbo said when asked what he'll do on Monday. "Playing at night is definitely different than day, but you gotta stay focused, stay even-keeled and, when the lights come on, be ready to go."
With cornerback Devin McCourty back on the field for Saturday's practice, Ihedigbo talked a lot about battling through injuries, but offered no hints to whether McCourty might be healthy enough to sneak into action Monday night.
As Ihedigbo did when injuries cropped up at the safety position, he said others will be ready to fill his shoes if McCourty can't go.
"That's how it's been all year, guys have to seize the opportunity," said Ihedigbo. "[McCourty is] a phenomenal player, so whatever the case is -- I can’t speak for someone else -- if he’s up and he’s playing, he’ll be be flying around making plays. If a guy has to step up for him, a guy has to step up. That's what it is in this league."
For a New England team with 18 players on the injury report this week -- including Ihedigbo, who suffered his own shoulder injury against the Jets and has been limited this week in practice -- playing through pain is a necessity.
"At this time of year, you gotta continue to fight," said Ihedigbo. "Everyone in the league is battling something at this time of year. So you really look up to guys that can fight through certain injuries or whatever it might be, to be on the field and playing. You definitely look up to those guys and say, 'You know what, I gotta pick it up even more, when a guy like that is [playing].'"