Quick hits from the locker room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from the media-access period in the Patriots' locker room (2:15-3:15 p.m.):

1. Players drawing larger crowds included WR Deion Branch, RB Danny Woodhead, WR/S Matthew Slater, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez and OLB Rob Ninkovich, among others. In the media workroom, G Logan Mankins, LB Jerod Mayo and G Brian Waters held news conferences (in that order).

2. As expected, TE Rob Gronkowski kept his distance and wasn't spotted in the time reporters were present in the locker room.

3. Reflective of a lighter mood, players had printed out ESPN.com senior writer Ivan Maisel's commentary on Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien pulling double duty as coordinator/Penn State head coach, and were looking forward to having some fun with O'Brien because of a photo in the piece. The photo shows O'Brien, then a young coach at Brown, with his arm around the late Joe Paterno. One player joked he was going to ask O'Brien to autograph it.

4. Deion Branch held court for about 20 minutes. He fielded some questions about past Super Bowls, and his MVP performance from Super Bowl XXXIX. He keeps the MVP trophy in a glass case at home. Branch also touched on how he keeps in touch with former Patriots teammates such as David Patten, David Givens, Patrick Pass and others.

5. Players explained that they approached this week as if it was a regular-season set-up. So while there is no official practice Saturday, players will have the standard walkthrough and meetings they normally would on that day of the week.

6. Logan Mankins is all business. A reporter asked a question about Super Bowl XLII and his memories. His answer was short and to the point. "That was four years ago. Next question."