Having played potential foes is a plus, thinks Ridley

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Having played potential foes is a plus, thinks Ridley

FOXBORO -- The Patriots played four of the other five AFC playoff teams this season, and went 3-1 in those games, losing only to Baltimore.

They didn't play Cincinnati, but the only way the Patriots would have to play the Bengals, would be in the AFC Championship, if the Bengals defeated both Houston and Denver.

So it's a longshot.

As for the other four teams, having the experience of already playing them this season is certainly a positive, according to at least one Patriots player.

"Absolutely, the more film that we have on whoever we play, the better," said running back Stevan Ridley on Monday. "So, they're going to look at it and put us in a position to go out there and be successful, and we have to execute."

The Patriots have Tuesday off, and will practice Wednesday and Thursday before having Friday through Sunday off.

Ridley was one of the few Patriots players who spoke to the media after meetings on Monday at Gillette Stadium, a day after their 28-0 win over Miami in the regular-season finale.

He said he won't be watching next weekend's Wild Card round.

"I'll be hunting," he said. "I'm going down South, man. So probably not."

But before and after that, the Patriots have work to do. Even Ridley -- who ran for over 1,200 yards this season -- knows that.

"Yeah, coach Bill Belichick's going to have something to say," said Ridley. "But if he didn't, it wouldn't be Coach.

"We're trying to play perfect football," added Ridley. "And that's impossible, of course, but when you make a mistake, you best believe that this is one place that it's not going to slide. He's going to mention it. He's going to try to critique it, correct it, and we'll move forward."

As good as he's been, Ridley still hasn't played perfect football this year. Just look at his four fumbles.

But he didn't lose the football on Sunday. And he scored two touchdowns, helping himself and his team to a first-round bye.

The Patriots will need more of that in two weeks.

"I'm thankful," said Ridley. "The offensive line is doing a tremendous job. I'm blessed. For us to be rolling into the playoffs right now, coming off a game like that, that's what we needed. So we're just going to keep working.

"It's a great feeling when the offense is clicking. And it was clicking on the ground, it was clicking in the air. We had things going. It was just a good day for us, and that only comes through hard work and preparation throughout the week. And that's what we did."

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper. 

Slater missing from start of Patriots practice

Slater missing from start of Patriots practice

FOXBORO -- The Patriots were without two key members of their special teams units at Friday's practice. 

Both Matthew Slater (foot) and Jordan Richards (knee) were not spotted at the start of the team's most recent workout. Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton (illness) was also missing. 

Hamilton and Richards did not participate in Thursday's practice. Slater was present on Wednesday and Thursday after missing Sunday's game against the Jets. 

The Patriots did have a Gronkowski back on the field Friday, but it wasn't Rob, who was expected to undergo back surgery in Los Angeles. It was fullback Glenn Gronkowski, who has apparently been re-signed to the Patriots practice squad for his fourth go-round on New England's 10-man unit. Practice-squad tight end Kennard Backman, who has not been at Patriots practice since Wednesday, has likely been released in order to make room for Gronkowski.