- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots held their first of two practices during the bye week on Wednesday afternoon, and followed that up with locker room availability to the media. Passing along some sites and scenes:
Not a "week off": Head coach Bill Belichick made it clear during his afternoon press conference that this bye week is not a week off for his team, and tight end Aaron Hernandez reinforced that notion, saying, "I feel like instead of thinking of it as a week off, think of it as a week to get better. We all need to get better, we all need to grow as a team, and take that step from having this week off."
Self-scouting, health key: Without knowing who they'll play in the divisional round, the Patriots are engaging in self-scouting this week, something safety Steve Gregory said is important. "You want to narrow down on the things you need to get fixed. We've been doing that this week. It's a good week for us, a big week for us to get better."
Wide receiver Wes Welker spoke about the importance of being healthy heading into the playoffs, but also maintaining the balance between time to rest and time to improve on the practice field.
"The health is very important to us," he said. "The health of the team, it is big for us, and at the same time it's a good opportunity to go out there and play and try to improve."
Brocher remembered: A television in the locker room shared scrolling images of longtime equipment manager Don Brocher, who passed away early Tuesday morning. The shades in his office were drawn. Earlier in the day, Belichick shared an emotional tribute to the longest-tenured employee of the franchise.
Players will be watching Wild Card games: The Patriots won't waste an opportunity to get ahead on preparation, as the players said they'll be watching this weekend's Wild Card games and studying up on their three potential opponents in the divisional round.
"I'm sure we'll watch them and [will be] wondering who we're playing," Hernandez said. "As soon as we find out who we're playing, that's when we're really focusing on that team."
"I'll probably watch it [the Texans game, the first game to be played] pretty closely, and all the games," Welker added. "Make sure I'm staying on top of it all."
6hBy Ian O'Connor