Patriots focused going into playoffs; practice in full pads on bye week

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There’s no slowing down the Patriots, even in the bye week.

Determined not to finish how they did in 2015 and lose home-field advantage in the playoffs, the New England Patriots came out full-throttle in their regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.

And on Wednesday this week – their bye week – they practiced in full pads.

These two circumstances reflect a team that’s hungry, focused and ready for the playoffs.

Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots will practice again on Thursday, this time without pads. Then they will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. The team will be back for meetings on Monday, then continue with on-field practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the game Saturday night.

Safety Devin McCourty mentioned that every team uses the bye week differently, but what’s important is that the Patriots recognize their goals and are set on the end result.

“I think we all understand our goal and what we’re trying to do this week,” McCourty said, “We know every play is important now, so just trying to zero in on everything that we might see, or might not see. I think that’s the benefit of having the bye week and having some days to reexamine yourself and get ready for the final push of the season.”

A number of Patriots, like wide receiver Chris Hogan, have little or no playoff experience, but they know how hard they have to work.

“I’ve heard from a number of guys where, in the playoffs, the speed picks up a little bit more,” said Hogan, “The level of play is one-and-done. You’re just playing for the next game. Everyone’s playing that much harder. I’m excited.”

The “final push of the season” begins on Saturday, Jan. 14 at Gillette Stadium for the AFC divisional-round playoff game, set for 8:15 pm.

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