INDIANAPOLIS -- Capping off the night with the three biggest takeaways from the Patriots' first day in town for Super Bowl XLVI:
1. Belichick sets the tone. Does it seem like Patriots coach Bill Belichick is smiling more these days? “We wonder about that all of the time," receiver Wes Welker said. "I don’t know if it’s a lady in his life or what the deal is, but he definitely smiles a little more than he used to." Belichick was all smiles in his opening news conference on Sunday and his relaxed, engaging approach sent a keep-it-loose message to his players in a high-pressure, intense environment. But don't be fooled, Welker said Belichick hasn't suddenly gone soft. "Trust me, he is just as hard on us as what he’s been since day one, at least with me," Welker said. "He is on all of the time. He works very hard and tries to put us in the best position to win." Maybe Belichick just really likes this 2011 team.
2. Brady's remarks create N.Y. storm. Really? The New York media is taking Tom Brady's pep-rally remarks Sunday and blowing them up. "We're going down there, and we're going down there for one reason. We're going to give it our best and hopefully we have a lot more people at our party next weekend," Brady said. This dominated the coverage of the New York Daily News and New York Post, and others such as ESPNNewYork.com jumped on it as well. To which we ask, "Where's the context?" It's no wonder players often speak in cliches. File this under: Over-reaction.
3. Gronk and the boot. Tight end Rob Gronkowski wore a boot on his left foot, which relieves some of the pressure on his high ankle sprain. Gronkowski isn't scheduled to be available to reporters until Tuesday's media day, and until then, players can expect to be asked about him regularly. "We are going to have him out there, and he is always a force," Welker said. Belichick smiled when asked about Gronkowski, saying only that he was "day to day." Hard to imagine he'd miss the Super Bowl. The question will be his effectiveness.