FOXBOROUGH — Despite the snowstorm, the Patriots had no immediate plans to change their work schedule for Friday.
That schedule includes a rookie meeting at 7:30 a.m. Not surprisingly, several players were overheard saying they’d be waking up earlier than usual to make sure they got to Gillette Stadium on time. Aqib Talib joked that he would be staying at the hotel at Patriot Place, which is within walking distance from the team facility.
Undoubtedly, players who have been with the Patriots for a few years mentioned LateGate in 2009 to teammates, when four players, including Randy Moss, were sent home after arriving late for the day’s first meeting because of snow.
The only change to Friday’s schedule as of Thursday afternoon was moving practice inside the Dana-Farber Field House.
The Patriots practiced in light snow on Thursday morning.
“I had a great time. It was a fun practice,” said Rob Ninkovich. “Not too often that you get to go out there and run around in the snow. It was a good, productive practice and it was fun that we were able to run around and make some plays in the snow.”
The Patriots have emphasized that they are using this week to fine-tune while they await their opponent for the divisional round of the playoffs Jan. 11.
“I’m encouraged by what we’ve been able to do so far,” Matthew Slater said. “We got some good work today in the elements, which I thought was good. You expect to play in something like that at some point this year.”
The Patriots have played in adverse conditions quite a bit this season, with rain in Cincinnati and again last Sunday against Buffalo, as well as bitter cold against Denver.
“That’s one thing Bill [Belichick] always preaches is, ‘Football is meant to be played outside,’ ” Ninkovich said. “So whatever it is, get your stuff on and go to practice.”
Boyce placed on IR
The Patriots placed wide receiver Josh Boyce on injured reserve, ending his season because of an ankle injury suffered Dec. 15 against the Dolphins.
A fourth-round pick out of Texas Christian, Boyce’s rookie season was marred by injury. Not long after the combine, where he ran an impressive 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he underwent surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot that sidelined him for spring camps.
He played in the exhibition season, and the Patriots’ first five regular-season games. But Boyce was a healthy scratch in Weeks 6-9 and also Week 12, returning to the lineup Dec. 1 in Houston, where he got his first shot to return kickoffs, and had six for 149 yards.
Boyce had not played or practiced since being hurt in Miami. He finished the season with nine receptions for 121 yards (13.4 yards per catch), plus nine kickoff returns for 214 yards (23.8-yard average).
With Aaron Dobson (foot) still ailing, the Patriots re-signed receiver Austin Collie. Collie had been released last week, the second time this season he’s been cut by the Patriots. He has six catches for 63 yards.
Hulkamania runs wild
Backup tight end Matthew Mulligan got a shout-out from Hulk Hogan on Facebook on Thursday, when the wrestling star posted a video declaring his support of the Patriots.
“I’m a Patriots fan. I love New England, brother,” Hogan said. “I was champion for a long time in your area, brother. But I got something for you: With a world title belt around your waist and hanging there in the locker room with the Patriots, you guys got a piece of Hulk Hogan there, Jack. Right in New England.”
The video apparently came about because Mulligan is a big Hogan fan and ordered a championship belt off Hogan’s website, which he said was his wife’s idea.
“Him doing the promo, that was all [Hogan’s people],” Mulligan said. “And I definitely appreciate it because I’m a big fan of Hulk Hogan.”
Though the video has since been taken down, Hogan did mention Mulligan by name, which he said was exciting.
“There’s only a few people in life that as a grown man you’d be pretty giddy about meeting, and I think Hulk Hogan would be one of them,” Mulligan said. “I was showing all my buddies at home, they were all freaking out. Hulk Hogan’s a household name, whether you watch wrestling or not.”
Mulligan’s belt hasn’t arrived, but he’ll have it in the locker room soon enough, especially since, as he pointed out, many of his teammates were Hulkamaniacs growing up, like he was. And apparently still is.