FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Leftovers from Bill Belichick's news conference Friday:
1. Chung & Spikes close to return. When asked about the importance of safety Patrick Chung (foot) and linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) returning to the field before the playoffs, Belichick said, "You can only play a player if he's ready to play." Belichick then added, "I think they’re close obviously. They’ve been practicing. Some guys have done more than others. Some guys - it’s a question of really being able to string it together and really get up to the competitive level that they need to be at."
2. Highlighting the Bills' strengths. Belichick led off the news conference with some opening remarks on what the Bills do well. "Leading the league in kickoff coverage, fewest sacks, they run the ball well, 20 interceptions," he said.
3. Donald Thomas hangs in at left guard. Fielding several questions about fill-in left guard Donald Thomas, Belichick said, "He’s had a lot of different roles for us this year. Situationally, he’s played in some goal-line, short yardage packages and then in different weeks depending on the availability of our inside players – we’ve been through four centers now and things like that that has affected our overall depth inside. He’s actually gotten quite a few snaps for us in practice. The most playing time was in the game last week. I thought he hung in there and he did some good things. ... Donald has worked hard, he’s a smart guy and he’s been very dependable for us on a daily basis."
4. Impressions of James Ihedigbo. Asked his impressions of safety James Ihedigbo, Belichick said, "Very professional, smart guy. Did a real good job for us in the kicking game, well prepared on defense even though he didn’t have a lot of defensive playing time early, but he’s one of those guys that always paid attention, knew what to do. You put him in there, he was on top of it. As he’s gotten more of an opportunity to play, he’s really shown that he communicates well, he makes quick decisions, I think he has good football instincts and understands the game – whether its in the kicking game or defensively. The kind of guy that you tell him once and he understands it or he’ll ask a question that kind of one step ahead of your explanation. You’re explaining something and then he’s like, ‘So if this happens, then would you want me to do this? Yeah, exactly, that would be the next thing to go to.’ He’s kind of thinking one step ahead like that. He’s been a real good addition to this team."