Patriots back to work after quick offseason

Patriots back to work after quick offseason
April 22, 2014, 4:45 pm
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FOXBORO -- The Patriots began voluntary offseason workouts on Monday three months after the Patriots lost in the AFC Championship Game.

The amount of time players actually take off during that span? A few weeks.

"You play such a long season your body's really beat up," Matthew Slater said in a conversation with media members on Tuesday. "You like to take a few weeks off and let your body heal itself up and then you slowly get back into rehab and running and lifting. Those first few weeks when you first start back you think, 'Man, I'm outta shape!' But you know that's all part of it. It's really a year-round gig now. We really have to keep ourselves in tip-top shape year-round. You have to pick and choose your spots to take time off and rest your body, but other than that you've gotta be on at all times."

Slater explained that on top of trying to keep his body right, he does other work in the offseason to raise his game: self-scouting; talking to other players around the league; watching film of other players.

Then, of course, there are the workouts. Slater said this week begins the months-long process of building a cohesive team.

"I think this is huge," Slater said. "You can't expect to just show up September and have a good football team. It really starts now. It starts with physcially preparing your body, building chemistry, going back to the basics. There's a lot of work that goes into us showing up September and playing a game so we're a long ways away right now. We know that and hopefully we can get ourselves in a better position day by day."

It's a different NFL from the one Slater learned about growing up. His dad, Jackie, played tackle for 20 years in the Rams organization and made the Hall of Fame in 2001. Before Matthew was born, Jackie spent his first three offseasons as a substitute teacher. As his career progressed, Matthew saw his dad spend more and more time working himself into shape, paying his dues, so that he could continue to play at a high level.

Jackie's work ethic set a good example for his son. And now his son, a captain, is trying to set a good example for his teammates as they get together to prepare for the 2014 season.

"I think the biggest thing is trying to lead by example," Slater said. "Coming in here and putting in a good day's work oftentimes says more than any words that can come out of your mouth. My approach is to take each day as its own and improve myself physically, mentally so that I can be a better football player and teammate for this team."