INDIANAPOLIS -- The Patriots got back to work Monday after two days off. The team worked in full pads and worked late, arriving to a media session almost a full hour later than expected.
Patrick Chung sighed as he sat down before reporters. He wore the navy blue sweats seen weekly at Gillette stadium. He looked tired but content.
"It feels awesome," he said of being in Indianapolis. "It feels awesome. We're still here on a business trip, though. We're still here to work hard. But it feels good. It feels good to be here. A lot of guys don't get this opportunity, so we've got to take the best of it and play a good game."
Focus is a question. There are loud, colorful, insistent distractions everywhere the Patriots turn. Just the size of the media hoard, multiplied exponentially this week, reminds them of the hype.
It's a wonder how the players manage emotions and expectations.
"You don't want it to feel like a vacation," said Devin McCourty. "Waking up this morning, going to meetings, going over to the facility, going to practice, guys starting to go through the natural routine of the week is better for us. We're guys, we get in a routine and that's what we're in. Once we get in it, we don't know anything else.
"The biggest thing now, since we are in a hotel, guys are coming back, getting together, grabbing something to eat. We're all here so let's go down and watch some extra film. It kind of helps in a way, especially if we can kind of stick together and stay in our little bubble rather than getting outside and being entertained by the circus of everything going on with the media, fans and everything."
Football is the fix.
When New England turns its attention to study, preparation, preparation, execution, the surroundings fade away. Not even Monday practice threw them off. Normally, it's the day after a game -- either they rest on a victory or return for meetings.
So practicing in full pads? It actually feels natural when your sense of time is based on what you do, not when you do it.
"For us, we don't see it as a Monday," McCourty explained. "Today was a Wednesday. For football players, it's kind of like, as soon as you say it's a Wednesday we don't remember the days of the week we just know it in terms of our football schedule."
The Patriots are relieved to return to work. Considering this week business as usual, finding normalcy amid the chaos, is crucial to setting the tone and finding success. Yes, even before a Super Bowl. Especially before a Super Bowl.