Patriots happy to return to work

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Patriots happy to return to work

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.

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

Julien sidesteps job security question with "shock journalism" comment

BOSTON -- With three crushing losses in a row at a time when results are really all that matters, the Boston Bruins are reeling at the wrong time during the regular season. The B’s tried their best to win a game 0-0 with strong defense against a sleepy Chicago Blackhawks bunch on Friday night, but ultimately coughed up a Marian Hossa goal in the final minutes for a 1-0 regulation loss at TD Garden.

The defeat continued a swirl downward for the Black and Gold over the last week, and was a second straight shutout loss on home ice for the first time in almost 15 years. The losing stretch has also kicked up the chatter that Claude Julien is in trouble as head coach of the Bruins, and the hockey club’s underperformance up and down the lineup is ultimately going to cost the NHL’s longest tenured bench boss his job.

The Ottawa Senators have passed the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, and it’s only a matter of time before the Toronto Maple Leafs move by them as well with both Toronto and Ottawa holding six games in hand on Boston. Combine all of this with the B’s having missed the playoffs in each of the previous two seasons leading into this one, and it shouldn’t be at all surprising that Julien is squarely on the coaching hot seat.

The B’s bench boss was asked about his job security after the Chicago loss, and clearly didn’t appreciate the tough, but appropriate question.

“Well, I’m not into shock-journalism,” said Julien in a prideful tone. “So I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind.”

The Bruins posted their Saturday schedule shortly after Julien and the B’s players had addressed the media following the loss, and sure enough the embattled coach is scheduled to address the media post-practice as part of the regular practice day routine. So it doesn’t seem that a move with Julien is imminent this weekend despite another loss, but both the coach and the players know something is going to happen to shake things up with this team if they continue to struggle.

“Right now it’s a results based situation, so if you’re going to keep losing games then probably something’s going to happen,” said Torey Krug. “But right now we’re just pretty down emotionally after this game, so I don’t want to look at the big picture. I just [want to] focus on what’s going on in this room, and hopefully we can come back with a good effort the next game.”

A good effort might help Julien’s standing with the Bruins in the short term, but it’s impossible to imagine the B’s bench boss making it through the rest of the Bruins regular season given all of things working against him right now.