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Final takeaway from locker room

1/20/2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- They feel like they're ready.

That thought is the biggest takeaway from the final media-access period in the locker room (1:45-2:45 p.m.) before Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens. Multiple Patriots players said the week of preparation went well, and the general feeling is that momentum has been built leading in to what they're calling the toughest game of their season.

One gets the sense that players and coach Bill Belichick feel good about taking their best shot with this group, at home, in such a high-stakes game. Their confidence is high and despite all those names on the injury report, the general health of the 53-man roster is in as good a place as can be expected at this time. The playoff bye week helped.

On Friday, tight end Rob Gronkowski, safety James Ihedigbo and defensive lineman Shaun Ellis were players drawing larger media crowds in the locker room. Safety/receiver Matthew Slater, defensive back Devin McCourty, and receivers Deion Branch and Wes Welker held news conferences in the media workroom.

"It’s been a good week of practice and preparation," Welker said, adding that a few walkthrough practices and meetings are left to polish things up.

Added cornerback Devin McCourty: "We came out and worked hard. That’s the goal, to come out and work hard all week at practice and give yourself a chance to play well on Sunday."

As Belichick sometimes says, the hay is almost in the barn. It's been a good week of work for the Patriots.

Now it's all about execution on game day.