FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Some of the themes from today’s media-access period in the New England Patriots' locker room (3-3:45 p.m. ET):
1. No sign of punter Allen; no reported punter workouts: While a chair was unfolded in front of his locker, indicating that he was likely at the stadium on Monday, rookie punter Ryan Allen wasn’t present during the time reporters were present. Allen injured his shoulder in the second quarter on Saturday and didn’t return. We also didn’t see kicker Stephen Gostkowski and long snapper Danny Aiken during the media-access period. The Patriots didn’t report any official punter workouts on the league’s transaction wire for Monday, which doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t considering an injury replacement, but does seem to reflect that there wasn’t an urgency to hustle free-agent punters in before 4 p.m. ET on Monday.
2. Thompkins checks in: Rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, who was knocked out of Saturday’s game with a head injury, walked through with his fellow pass-catchers. Asked how he was feeling, he said “good”, although we’ll get a much better feel for his status and specifics of the injury (presumably a concussion) when the Patriots are required to submit an official injury report on Wednesday.
3. Reminder of first road playoff game: Special teams captain Matthew Slater made the point that this will be the first road playoff game for the Patriots since 2006, which means everyone but kicker Gostkowski (joined Patriots in ’06), offensive lineman Logan Mankins (’05) and Tom Brady (’00) will be experiencing a road playoff game as a member of the Patriots for the first time.
4. Dog days of winter for Patriots: With Brady embracing the Patriots’ underdog status in his morning interview on sports radio WEEI, the topic was a popular one in terms of questions asked to players. Fullback James Develin had the most notable response. “I personally love the underdog story,” he said. “It just kind of keeps a little bit of the pressure off you and I just like to prove the doubters wrong.” As for if anyone has to remind Brady what it means to be an underdog, Develin said: “He came into the league as a big underdog, so he doesn’t need any help on that.”
5. Blount’s breakaway speed extends to locker room: Running back LeGarrette Blount was one of the first players to arrive as more than 50 reporters waited in the middle of the locker room, and when they approached, he quickly grabbed something from his locker and raced away in proving that he is a tough "tackle" both on and off the field. A team official quickly hurried over to him and asked him to return, which Blount did a minute or so later. In addition to Blount, safety Steve Gregory, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, receiver Danny Amendola and Develin were players drawing larger media crowds.