Players will return well rested

NFL head coaches have to know when to push their teams harder or sometimes lighten the whip. Now in his 36th year in the NFL, Bill Belichick's "feel" for this aspect of leading a team is well established.

Since defeating the Dolphins last Monday, Patriots players have had five of the last seven days off -- Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.

The Patriots got some work in Thursday and Friday, focusing on some in-house areas they wanted to clean up. Belichick could have had players back in today, but by giving them the long weekend he's banking on them returning well-rested and re-energized to attack the season's final 12 games.

Belichick recently pointed out this is close to the halfway point since training camp started July 29.

Players, coaches and support staffers have been grinding away since that time, so the break comes at a nice time for them. They shouldn't have a difficult time shifting back into gear upon their return, as the next team on the schedule -- the Baltimore Ravens -- is considered one of the best in the NFL.

MONDAY PLAN: Belichick and Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio are scheduled to hold conference calls in the noontime hour today. Defensive playtime stats will be updated here today.