Players earn long weekend off

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick, apparently pleased with the work the team conducted in demanding full-pads practices Wednesday and Thursday, has given players a long weekend. Players are off Friday-Sunday, and some took the opportunity to leave town Thursday night and head to warmer climates.

Players also had Monday and Tuesday off this week, as Belichick balanced the health of the roster with his stated goal of self-improvement.

By Monday, players will know their opponent for the team's Jan. 16 playoff opener, and the focus will turn toward more game-specific preparation.