FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots returned to the practice field Thursday as they continue to make preparations for their rematch with the New York Jets.
The Patriots defeated the Jets 30-14 at home in Week 3 but come Monday night, they’ll be facing a different team in the Meadowlands.
For one, the Jets are coming off their first win of the season after taking down the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 last Sunday. But more importantly, QB Sam Darnold will be under center, which should be a stark change from third-stringer Luke Falk, who got the start against the Patriots after Darnold came down with mononucleosis and Trevor Siemian suffered an ankle injury.
“The quarterback makes a big difference. They’ve gotten other players back on both sides of the ball,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Thursday.
“They’ve done a good job of improving their team every week and certainly showed it on Sunday against Dallas,” he added.
The Patriots last saw Darnold in the final week of 2018. The rookie QB connected on 16 of 28 pass attempts for 167 yards but failed to find the end zone and New England walked away with a 30-3 victory.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Belichick said. “He can make all the throws. Big, strong kid. He can run. Short, intermediate, deep. He’s got good weapons.”
The Patriots have had some extra time to get ready for the Jets after earning their sixth win of the season last Thursday against the New York Giants.
“A lot of good players, a lot to get ready for, and Monday night’s always a high-energy game,” Belichick said. “So, we’ll point to that, and we’ll just be tough down there in New York. We’ll need to have a good week here, be ready to go.”
Belichick declined to comment on the status of defensive end Michael Bennett, who was handed a one-week suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
He did, however, react to Jets WR Demaryius Thomas’ comments to the New York Daily News that his recent stint with the Patriots was a “waste of time” and it was “insulting” that he got cast aside in favor of Antonio Brown.
“Demaryius is a great kid. I have a ton of respect for him. He’s very professional and did everything we asked him to do,” Belichick said. “Our circumstances changed a couple times in that period leading up to when he was traded, and so I felt like I was always truthful with him, but things changed, and therefore what I said was not the same as what it was – what I had said previously. So, it is what it is.”
In addition to Bennett, WR Josh Gordon and TE Matt LaCosse on Thursday were once again absent from practice.
The team plans to practice on Friday and Saturday ahead of Monday night’s game. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.