Quick hits from the locker room

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
12:45
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from the media-access period in the locker room, combining Tuesday (4:15-5 p.m.) and Wednesday (11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.), as the Patriots' work schedule has been altered with a Saturday game:

1. Players drawing larger media crowds included DE/OLB Mark Anderson, WR Deion Branch, TE Rob Gronkowski, S James Ihedigbo, CB Devin McCourty, LB Rob Ninkovich, WR Tiquan Underwood and OL Brian Waters.

2. Receiver Deion Branch said he doesn't think his groin injury, which sidelined him Sunday in Denver, should be a long-term situation. Branch didn't speak with reporters last week, but did today. That could be viewed as a good sign for his availability Saturday.

3. Safety Patrick Chung cordially waved off an interview request as he dressed for today's practice, which is being held in light shoulder pads. Last week, Chung didn't participate in any practices, so this looks like a positive step.

4. Practice squad defensive end Markell Carter, who is a top candidate to be promoted with Andre Carter landing on season-ending injured reserve, is keeping a low media profile this week. No interviews.

5. A locker was set up for a new player, which is expected to be veteran safety Vincent Fuller.

6. Offensive players said that as they began the process of getting familiar with the Dolphins' defense, the overall health of the Miami 'D' has stood out. Outside of Koa Misi, the outside linebacker, it's basically the same players they saw in the season opener.

7. Bill Belichick often pulls out impressive statistics to highlight the positive aspects of the opposition and here is one that players heard today: In two games this season against the Dolphins, the Bills were 0 for 23 on third down. The Dolphins rank fifth in the NFL in third-down defense.

8. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was having fun with a wireless Bose speaker, which he said he received as a holiday gift from punter Zoltan Mesko and snapper Danny Aiken. On the playlist today -- Kings of Leon. Gostkowski then switched over to his 80s mix, obliging one reporter with this Stevie Winwood hit (link here). Always a good time hanging with the specialists.

9. Practice squad defensive end Cedric McKinley, who has been issued No. 66, has taken up residence in Taylor Price's old locker.

10. Even though he's not currently on the practice squad, the Patriots have an AFC East championship hat and T-shirt set aside for cornerback Malcolm Williams, the seventh-round draft choice from TCU.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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