FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots were back on the practice field Monday, and there were three players not spotted during the media-access window: cornerback Aqib Talib, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, and wide receiver/special teamer Matthew Slater.
And among those present was wide receiver Danny Amendola, but his presence appeared to be purely for show. During warmups and some agility/positional drills that media were present for, Amendola was not moving well at all. He is dealing with a strained groin, and may or may not be facing surgery for a sports hernia.
The Globe’s Ben Volin is reporting that Slater has a broken bone in his hand, which may mean he’s unavailable for Sunday’s game with the Buccaneers.
It’s not known at this time what is bothering Talib, though he was rolled up on late in last Thursday’s win over the Jets.
Dennard was in Nebraska Monday morning for a court hearing.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not provide any further information on the status of Amendola or injured tight end Rob Gronkowski, saying the team would “take it day-to-day.”
Gronkowski has been rehabbing from arm and back surgeries in the offseason, with reports suggesting he may be able to play as soon as this Sunday if all goes well.
After a sloppy 13-10 win over the Jets Thursday night, there has been speculation as to whether the Patriots will be able to compete offensively when they face higher-regarded teams in upcoming weeks — especially with the injuries to the receivers.
But Belichick is squarely focused on this Sunday’s matchup in Foxborough against the Buccaneers, a team he believes is much better than its 0-2 record indicates.
“They’ve been really close the last two weeks and have come up short, but a couple plays that just turn out a little differently, wouldn’t have taken much, we’d be looking at a 2-0 team,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for the way that they play. They’re a tough, physical team.
“They have a good mixture of pressure, coverage, movement up front, they’re very fast and athletic, whichever 11 players they have on the field, they play based on your personnel – 4-3, nickel, dime. They’re very fast and explosive, no matter who they have on the field.”
Tampa Bay is coming off tough losses to the Jets and Saints, and Belichick said any suggestion that the Buccaneers will be desperate for a win doesn’t change the coaching staff’s strategy.
“We would have expected Tampa’s best no matter what happened in the first two games, and that’s what we’ll expect this week,” he said. “From working against them — we played against them twice in preseason and worked on the field with them — we have a lot of respect for their players, their coaching staff, their toughness, their effort, their competitiveness.”
Belichick said the plan for the week would be only slightly different, because of the fact that the Patriots have already had a few days off. But mostly they are approaching Week 3 from a normal perspective.
“Last week was really a week that we weren’t able to practice, it was really more walkthroughs and film and preparation and that kind of thing,” said Belichick. “I think that it kind of as a staff gives us a little bit of extra time to figure out where we are, what things we need to work on, need a little bit more work on, some situations that maybe haven’t come up in the first couple games that we need to refresh and the ones that have, we’ve talked about and hopefully learned from and been able to make progress on those going forward.
“[We] haven’t played here in a couple days and now we’re playing a team with a different style from what we played the first two weeks. We see that pretty much every week, [so we need] to start to get our timing and our execution and our communication and our adjustments and just techniques and all those, just start tuning back up those things so when we hit the field on Wednesday, we’ll be able to get as much out of that really first big day of preparation for Tampa as we can.”