By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - The bye the Patriots are on was hard-earned.Still, quarterback Tom Brady actually sounds like he has some activity envy. "There's teams that are practicing today and that do have games this weekend," Brady pointed out Wednesday."The team that we play is gonna win a playoff game this weekend and they're gonna have made improvements and I hope that we make improvements too."After a season in which Brady threw 36 touchdowns and 4 picks and the offenseturned the ball overan NFL-record-low 10 times, how much is there to work on during this self-scouting week?
"There certainly is a lot to fix," he insisted. "I don't want to sit here and tell you all the things we're working on but there's plenty of things we need to figure out ways to do things better. Certain guys haven't been out there for a few weeks . . . Aaron Hernandez, Deion Branch . . . "The Patriots are working Wednesday and Thursday but figure to be off Friday through Sunday. Brady spent a moment genuflecting at the Altar of Woodhead on Wednesday. Asked a question about the loss of third-down back Kevin Faulk in Week 2, Brady said, "Any time you lose a dependable performer like Kevin who's played so well under pressure over the years, it hurts. There was nobody on the roster to fill that void. To get Woody the next week, who's really stepped in and done a great job, running, catching blitz pickup . . . He's a smart player who's really stepped in and filled that role well. We're very fortunate to have a guy like Woody step in. It's certainly a great credit to him comng from the Jets and a different offense and system and what we've asked him to do here. He's done a great job."Woodhead suffered a head injury Sunday against the Dolphins but is expected to be fine. Asked if he had a preference on who the Patriots play next week in the Divisional Round, Brady said, "I don't think we have a pool or anything of who we want to play. Whoever it is is going to be a damn good team and whoever it is we're going to have to play our best game of the year to beat them."
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
President-elect Donald Trump made sure to thank a few of his supporters from New England -- particularly those at 1 Patriot Place -- during a speech on the eve of his inauguration to the nation's highest office.
Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady all earned shout-outs from Trump. Kraft was one of many Trump donors present for a dinner at Washington, DC's Union Station, where he was singled out by the soon-to-be-president.
"In the audience we have somebody that's under no pressure whatsoever because he's got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft," Trump said. "Good luck, Bob.
"Your friend Tom Brady just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You're going to do great."
Trump gave one extra nod to Belichick, who he says taught him to out-work his competition.
"I out-worked everybody," Trump said. "I think I out-worked anyone who ever ran for office. I learned that from Belichick."
FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.
Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign.
Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player.
Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.
Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.