Patriots Journal | First Taste of Playoffs for Numerous Patriots

Article excerpt

FOXBORO - With Bill Belichick and Tom Brady on their side, the Patriots have a huge advantage in playoff experience over any of their possible opponents. But that does not mean all the Patriots know what postseason play is like.

Even with the team competing in the playoffs for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, the 52-man roster includes 18 players who have never taken part in the postseason. They include 15 rookies and first-year Patriots LeGarrette Blount, Danny Amendola and Chris White.

What's more, only eight of the 22 starters in the Super Bowl two years ago are now on the active roster. If the team wants to see what a Super Bowl ring looks like, there is only one active player who has won one - Brady.

While experience helps, it is not necessarily a huge factor. Co- captain Matthew Slater said everyone has to adjust, not just the new guys.

"It doesn't matter. It's an adjustment for all of us. All of us have to step up our game. All of us have to prepare a little bit more," Slater said. "It doesn't matter if you've been there before or you haven't been there before. It's a new team, new players. You just have to come out and try to be ready for what it's going to be like."

One of the rookies, cornerback Logan Ryan, made the same point his coach made: That is, after playing a full season, the rookies are not really rookies by this point.

"I don't think anyone's a rookie anymore once you have that many games under your belt," Ryan said. "Now it's a whole other season.

"Right now I just feel like I'm in a rhythm," Ryan said. "It's the same routine week in and week out. For the first time I can just focus on football. I don't have to worry about school and other things, so that helps out a lot, too.

"It's a job now. That's how I approach it each and every day. I wake up and go to work," he said.

Rob Ninkovich pointed out that in some ways the toughest adjustment for a rookie comes much earlier.

"It's not easy being a rookie and going from college to having that long stretch, the combine, OTAs, minicamp, rookie camp, training camp. That's a long year," Ninkovich said. "For these guys here, it's been a journey for them. They've had a good year, but it's not over. So, for them, they just need to work really hard at focusing in on what our job is. Right now, that's getting better and getting prepared for whoever our opponent is going to be once we find out."

Many deciding factors

Belichick spoke the other day about how attitude can make a bigger difference than experience. He and others have spoken about how this team has demonstrated mental toughness, a trait it hopes will serve it well in the postseason.

"I think it's definitely part of the equation. It's hard to put percentages or anything on any of those kind of traits but whenever you bring a player into your organization, you get everything that comes with the player: his physical skills, his toughness, his learning ability, his personality, his leadership and so forth and so on," Belichick said. …


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