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Friday, January 3, 2014
Patriots lighten the load at end of week

By Mike Reiss

After practicing in cold and windy conditions on Wednesday, then in the snow on Thursday, the New England Patriots moved this morning's practice inside the Dana-Farber Fieldhouse and dialed back the pace with more of a mental-based, walkthrough-type session.

This reflects the theme of the week as the Patriots balanced two hard days of practice in which they mostly focused on themselves (instead of a specific opponent) with making sure they get some rest.

"I’m encouraged by what we’ve been able to do so far," special-teams captain Matthew Slater said on Thursday. "We got some good work in the elements, which I thought was good. You expect to play in something like that at some point this year. I think we’ve gotten [a chance] to go back to the basics and focus on the fundamentals ... and then as the weekend comes, hopefully we can take advantage of some time off and get off our feet and try to get our legs back underneath us."

Defensive end Rob Ninkovich said another good use of time this week has been revisiting the team's 13-6 loss to the Bengals on Oct. 6, as the Bengals are one of New England's three potential opponents in the second weekend of the playoffs (the Pats have a first-round bye). By doing so, players can "see the things that worked for them, and they’ll probably try against you [again]," he said.

The Patriots' next scheduled practice is Tuesday.