FOXBORO -- It's been 12 days since the Patriots last played a game, and the buildup to Sunday's meeting with the Bills has seemed almost interminable for coach Bill Belichick.
"Seems like a month since we've played," he said. "I think everybody's excited to get back out there and get going. We have a lot of challenges here with Buffalo in all three phases of the game as a team. Hopefully we're ready to meet those, get back out on the field and start playing again. Had a lot of practice time, a lot of film time, a lot of meeting time. Like I said I think we're excited, ready to get back out there and go. It can't get here soon enough."
Belichick said that with the extra practice time -- the Patriots have held four practices this week as opposed to the typical three leading up to a game -- the team may be a little ahead of schedule, but there is still plenty of work to do.
"The Bills give you a lot to get ready for," he said. "So we could probably take a month to get ready for Buffalo and still be working on something."
The bye week has given the Patriots more time to prepare, but they're trying to finish the week as normally as possible. Belichick explained that the team plans its weeks so that leading into a game -- no matter when it is: Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night -- players can feel as though they are going through their normal routine.
"I think those days leading up the game are pretty consistent," Belichick said. "Those days at the end are kind of the same, pretty much the same, so the player can get into that same routine so he can be at that same point weekly.
"It's not one week at all peaks, the next week you're kind of on the down slope, and the next week it peaks. You try to have it, you know, hit that crest every game . . . Personally is each guy in the same exact emotional state every week. I don't know. But the idea is to get to the highest point possible at that time and it's by sequencing the final days to try to facilitate that."
Though the structure of teams' practices have changed with the new collective bargaining agreement, Belichick said that the normal three-day practice schedule has been the same ever since he came into the NFL as an assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975. That explains why this four-day practice week is a little bit odd, even for him, and why he's itching to get back on the field for a game.
"It's been pretty much the same since I've come into the league," Belichick said of the three-day practice schedule. "Which was probably pretty much the same with Paul Brown, who changed the -- most everything Paul Brown did, I'd say, is what most professional teams do now. Sixty something, however many years later, however many years it's been."