New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has a reputation for not revealing much at his press conferences, but on Thanksgiving he showed another side.
The four-time Super Bowl-winning coach added a final comment at the end of his press conference — and not in response to a question — expressing his gratitude to the media and high school football.
“I’ll jump in there and just wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving,” Belichick said Thursday. “I appreciate the professional way that this group covers us and being the conduit of information from the team to the fans. We have great fan support.
“Today is also a day to be recognized with the high school football level with so many traditional and rivalry games taking place. Having been at high school and played in those games myself, we always had a traditional Thanksgiving Day game between Annapolis and Severna Park, and I know how important that was to the teams, the families and really the whole school body that supported us. It’s such a good traditional way to capture and bring a lot of things together — family, community, friendship — and do it in a competitive way but also in a way that bonds friendship and community support. And just recognizing the high schools, the great job the coaches and those programs do to develop players that eventually become our players and how impactful they are to our players.
“When I talk to players at the (scouting) combine in the spring and so forth usually the two most influential people for kids are their parents or in some cases one parent and then the high school football coach or maybe a junior high school football coach — somebody who mentored them along the way or kind of helped them develop as young men. All of us who have had that opportunity have certainly gained from it and taken from it. So just reaching out to them with our level of appreciation for what they do for kids that we eventually see at this level and for all the support that the parents and the families and the high schools gives those teams and those players and how it brings everybody together.
“And again, thanks to all of you for taking time on your Thanksgiving morning to accommodate us, and we look forward to seeing you out in Denver. Happy Thanksgiving.”
The Patriots (10-0) visit the Denver Broncos (8-2) on Sunday (8:30 p.m., NBC-TV).
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has faced off with Broncos QB Peyton Manning 16 times. But with Manning battling injuries and his future uncertain, the two will not see each other Sunday and may never play against each other again. While Brady has his hands full with the Broncos defense, he did acknowledge it will be different not seeing Manning on the other side.
“Truthfully I haven’t thought about that much. It’s a lot of work preparing for this defense. You’re right, I don’t play against that other side of the ball,” Brady said before going on to talk about his future Hall of Fame rival.
“I mean, there’s nobody that has more respect for Peyton than me outside of probably his parents and his brothers. If anybody can appreciate what he’s accomplished it’s me, so he’s just been remarkable in every part of his career. He’s been a tremendous player. It’s unfortunate. Everyone deals with injuries at different times, so it just happens to be this week. They won last week with the guy that they had in there. I think their defense is a huge … They’ve been as good as any defense in the league. It’s been a short week. It’s been a day and a half, and I’ve focused all my attention on that defense and trying to figure out a way for us to move the ball a little bit.”
The New England Patriots put wide receiver Aaron Dobson on season-ending injured reserve and signed safety Dewey McDonald to the 53-man roster on Thursday.
Dobson sustained an ankle injury during the Patriots’ win over the Buffalo Bills on Monday night, further depleting New England at wide receiver.
Receivers Danny Amendola (knee), Julian Edelman (foot) and Keshawn Martin (hamstring) already are limited by injuries, leaving Brandon LaFell and rookie Chris Harper as the only healthy players at the position
Dobson, 24, made three starts and played in eight games for the Patriots this year, making 13 catches for 141 yards. He was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Colts.
McDonald was claimed off waivers from the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 28 and played in two games for the Patriots before being released Nov. 12. He was signed to the practice squad on Nov. 14 and released again on Nov. 18.
The 25-year-old began his rookie year in 2014 on the Colts’ practice squad and was signed to the 53-man roster last Sept. 29. He played in 12 games, mostly on special teams, and had 13 tackles. McDonald also saw action in all three of the Colts’ postseason games.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski admits that Thanksgiving week can be a challenge. Beyond preparing for a quality opponent like the Denver Broncos, the players also must manage their menu on a day when most of America will be eating themselves into a food coma.
“There’s mental toughness right there, right there baby,” he said. “Knowing that you’ve got the huge pie in front of you and just only eating a little piece even though you want to eat the whole pie.
“Definitely know what your limit is because I know anyone in this locker room could put down like six pounds of food right there and come in the next day a little sluggish. You’ve got to focus on that and not do that. We’re not going to eat six pounds of turkey. I mean, I’m not going to even though I want to. If it was the offseason I’d eat that whole pie.”
The affable tight end also gave a quick rundown of his keys to a top holiday meal.
“Stuffing, that always goes good with the turkey,” Gronkowski said. “You don’t want when someone makes a dry turkey you always need a cup of extra gravy or something on top of that. Stuffing always goes good. You put stuffing on top of whatever you’re about to eat and it makes it delicious.”