FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from the media-access period in the Patriots' locker room this afternoon (1:45-3 p.m.):
1. Players drawing larger media crowds included receiver Wes Welker, cornerback Devin McCourty, cornerback Nate Jones, linebacker Jerod Mayo and practice squad center/guard Nick McDonald. It was unusual to see a practice squad player like McDonald drawing such attention, as some reporters are anticipating he could be promoted to the roster with centers Ryan Wendell (calf) and Dan Connolly (groin) limited at practice. McDonald and four-year veteran Donald Thomas were seen snapping to quarterbacks Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer earlier this week in practice.
2. Devin McCourty on the health on his injured right shoulder: "I'm just trying to work hard and get back. I don't want to tell you I'm real close and then I'm not out there and it seems like I was just making stuff up." This was the first time that McCourty spoke with reporters as a group since the injury. Asked if that is a sign he is closer to returning, McCourty said it was simply a case of timing and reporters being present and him being available.
3. Cornerback Nate Jones on his impressions of the Patriots: "Classy organization. Winning organization. Do things the right way. Tough. I think their record and their championships speak for themselves. Like I said, we don't miss a beat. You come in here and learn the Patriot Way fast." Jones said the key for him to be ready is being the first in the building and the last out, as he arrived before the sun came up on Friday. "I've been in the league eight years and I know what it takes," he said.
4. These are the first games McCourty has missed because of injury since he was sidelined two games at Saint Joseph's High School (Montvale, N.J.).
5. Tight end Rob Gronkowski just likes to have fun. In the process of making small talk with a reporter, he untaped his feet, rolled the tape up into a ball, and said that if he made a 25-foot shot into a trash barrel at the end of the locker room that the reporter would have to write on what a good basketball player he is. Gronkowski nailed it. Nothing but net from the top left of the key. So that's why this reporter is writing about it.
6. McCourty liked one question on the influx of Rutgers players in the locker room in recent weeks, with the signings of Tiquan Underwood and Nate Jones, both Rutgers alums. "We have great players down in New Jersey and Coach Belichick sees it," he said, smiling.