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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Picked-up pieces around Patriots

By Mike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For the second straight day, there was plenty of media-based activity at Gillette Stadium as the Patriots prepare for the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos.

Quarterback Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich held news conferences. In the locker room, running back Shane Vereen, receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, tight end Matthew Mulligan, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, cornerback Kyle Arrington, and special teams captain Matthew Slater were among those drawing large media crowds.

Also, guard Logan Mankins held a national conference call, while later in the day, honorary captain Willie McGinest held a conference call.

It's almost coverage-overload at this point.

Here were a few of the things that caught our attention:

1. Arrington preps for Welker and a 'quiet storm': Arrington played a solid game when the Patriots beat the Broncos on Nov. 24, and a big part of his assignment was defending Wes Welker in the slot. Arrington naturally fielded quite a few Welker questions, and mentioned how practicing against him every day has made him a better player. We also learned that Welker isn't much of a talker on the field. Arrington labeled him more of a “quiet storm,” which is at the opposite end of the spectrum of what it's like practicing against the chattier Julian Edelman.

2. McGinest humbled to be honorary captain: McGinest said he was humbled to be an honorary captain. “For all the other great Patriots that played alongside me and I played with, just the respect and professionalism that Mr. Kraft showed me, giving me my opportunity to come into an organization and help be a part of one of the building blocks of creating what it is today," he said. "I take a lot of pride in that.”

3. Friday departure viewed as a positive: Players liked the idea that they were leaving for Denver on Friday, which is pretty much standard operating procedure when the team is playing a 1 p.m. game local time in either the mountain of pacific time zones. The general consensus is that it gives them time to settle in and not have a quick turnaround after a longer flight if they had departed on Saturday afternoon.

4. Wilfork helping Siliga: Second-year defensive tackle Sealver Siliga credited Vince Wilfork for helping him with the nuances of the game. “That speaks big about Vince,” he said, agreeing that it's like having another coach. “There will be a look that I don't understand, but then I come to the sideline and he tells me and then I go on the field and see the same look and it's fixed. It's a big help.”

5. Red velvet cupcakes: From the lighthearted department, after finishing up with a few interviews, safety Steve Gregory smiled as he reached into his locker and pulled out a red-velvet cupcake. A league source revealed they were made by Andre Carter's wife, Bethany, and were a hit among teammates.