<
>

Picked-up pieces from locker room

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Picked-up pieces from the media-access period (10:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.) in the Patriots' locker room this morning:

Looking for clarity on Waters. Those hoping to see veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters were disappointed, as there was no sign of the 35-year-old who had been given an excused absence by the team all training camp. A locker for Waters remains set up, although it didn't look like anyone had been occupying it (e.g. a folded-up chair). So there is no more clarity with Waters' situation based on the 45-minute access period. Bill Belichick is scheduled to address the media at 1:15 p.m. and perhaps there will be an update at that time.

Branch & Koutouvides still have a presence. From the read-into-it-as-you-wish department, receiver Deion Branch and linebacker Niko Koutouvides still have lockers set up (Branch is directly to the right of Tom Brady). On the other hand, veteran linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who was released on Saturday, does not.

Salas gets familiar with new surroundings. Receiver Greg Salas, acquired in a trade with the Rams on Saturday, walked through with a member of the team's operations staff. He wasn't made available to speak with reporters. Salas spent some time in the equipment room, looking at some footwear as it appeared he had just recently arrived at the stadium. He has been issued jersey No. 17. Like Salas, offensive lineman Matt Tennant (No. 69, claimed from the Saints on Saturday) made a quick arrival and was unavailable for interviews.

Five draw media crowds. Players drawing larger media crowds included tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive end Chandler Jones, receiver Brandon Lloyd, cornerback Devin McCourty and quarterback Ryan Mallett. Several other players walked through, as many appeared to just be arriving at the stadium for a day of work.

New look in the locker room. The temporary blue lockers that were used to accommodate the 90-man roster limit were removed, opening up more space and signifying the shift to the regular season (53-man roster plus eight-man practice squad). Also, several players had their lockers moved in a reorganization that had some going to the wrong place upon their arrival. Most players are grouped by position. Rookie Jones has the at-the-exit spot long occupied by Ty Warren (and Shaun Ellis last year). For several of the new players, especially those new to the practice squad such as Sam Kirkland and James Develin, there was a first-day-of-school type of feel. A lot of introductions and shaking hands.

Hightower prepped to move from No. 45. Rookie linebacker Dont'a Hightower said it is only a matter of time before he changes jersey numbers. That should be coming any day now and he said there is no big preference. Hightower was all smiles after Alabama routed Michigan on Saturday. He was seeking out punter Zoltan Mesko (a Michigan alum) at one point, showcasing his smarts to avoid quarterback Tom Brady, who shook his head in disappointment when someone mentioned the game.

Taking advantage of two extra days of preparation. Players talked about turning the page to the regular season, and how Sunday and Monday represented two extra days to prepare for the Sept. 9 season opener at Tennessee. A full-team meeting was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to officially kick off the day's agenda.

Spotting Shiancoe. The status of veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe has been cloudy after he missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury. As media members were departing, Shiancoe exited from the training room with a black wrap on his right leg that extended down to his ankle.