FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's normal to see a Patriots locker room full of blue, team-issued travel bags prior to a road trip, but Thursday morning was a little bit of a different scene. Players were packed and ready to go to London, with many opting for an additional small duffle bag or suitcase to store their personal belongings before heading out for three days and four nights (including tonight's flight).
Not to be overlooked in the international travel is that the Patriots will have to temporarily relocate their requisite equipment and training room materials, as players will have over 48 hours of time to receive treatment before kickoff. The process of packing up the training room had begun, with several staff members hauling rolling cases of equipment out of the locker room.
Other sites and sounds from the locker room.
Wilfork talks "special" win. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork re-visited the Patriots' Week 7 overtime win against the Jets.
"That was a special win, that was a good win for the football team," he said. "Hopefully that's something we can grow on, because we showed that we can do it. For guys that are around here that haven't been around a lot, hopefully that's a confidence booster for them that when times get tough, we can stand up and we can take some shots. We did that."
As for lingering concerns about being able to close out a game, Wilfork says it's all about wins, regardless of the margin of victory.
"It's football, it's football," Wilfork said. "You can't go out and expect to blow somebody out 50-0 every week, you can't expect to go out and win by 10 and 17 points every week... This is the NFL, you can't get bummed out for winning a ball game by one. I'm pretty sure Seattle, Baltimore or Arizona wasn't bummed out after beating us by a couple of points. Trust me on that."
Connolly faces hometown team. Offensive guard Dan Connolly, who declared the trip to London as a business trip, says he and his teammates will still have a little bit of time to take in the culture.
"Sure, you get a little free time to see the city," he said. "I've got a little bit of family over there, I'll get to spend some time with them."
Connolly told reporters that an uncle of his married a British woman, and that he also has some family in France that will make the trip to the United Kingdom for the game.
That's not the only unique tie Connolly has to this game, as he'll also square off against his hometown team. Connolly, a graduate of Marquette High School in Chesterfield, MO (not far from St. Louis), says he became particularly interested in the Rams during their ascension to league prominence during the late 1990's.
The first team he rooted for was actually the former St. Louis Cardinals, who moved to Arizona in 1988 when Connolly was six. Given the Rams' success with the likes of Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk leading the "Greatest Show on Turf," Connolly said it was hard to not take notice.
Ninkovich riding hot streak. Four games, four forced fumble for defensive end Rob Ninkovich.
The veteran hopes to cause yet another turnover this week. "I'd like to," he said. "Just keep playing hard and get around the ball and things happen."
From a match-up standpoint, St. Louis looks like a favorable one for the Patriots' front seven, as they've already allowed 21 sacks of quarterback Sam Bradford. Ninkovich says, however, that this week is no different from any other from a preparation standpoint.
"I think that every week we do our best to game plan against the people we're going to be playing against," he said. "And this week's just like every other week. We do a great job of scouting who were going to go against, and try to get our best game plan to go against those guys. This week we'll do the same."
One area that will likely be a focus for the Patriots is stopping running back Steven Jackson. Thus far, the team has been excellent stopping the run, which Ninkovich traces back to a commitment to doing so back in training camp.
"We work well together as a unit," he added. "I think that starts in training camp. You form, the front seven forms a tight unit there and we kind of play off each other and understand what our responsibilities are."