FOXBOROUGH — Whether Jonathan Freeny plays Saturday against the Chiefs remains to be seen. The Patriots linebacker is working his way back from a dislocated right thumb and wrist. Although he has been practicing, he is wearing a hard cast. Freeny said he is scheduled to visit a doctor this week, which could bring a more concrete timeline.
There is precedent, however, for Freeny getting on the field under such circumstances. In 2012, he suffered a left thumb injury in the season opener and played with a cast the rest of the year, seeing time in all 16 games.
If and when Freeny does play, he wants it to be at full speed.
"If I'm going to go back in there, I'm going to make sure I'm ready to play and not going to have any hesitation," he said. "I'm still going to try to play the game the same way as always."
That first hand injury, while he was with the Dolphins, came in his first NFL game. He was questionable in Week 2, probable in Week 3, and not on the injury report the rest of the way. This time, Freeny got hurt Dec. 13 against the Texans — coincidentally, the same team he got hurt against in '12 — and had surgery shortly thereafter. He returned to practice last week.
Freeny said the cast doesn't hinder him much, and his fingers have a full range of motion. He can drive, write, and tackle just fine. After four weeks, it's almost as if it's part of his skin.
"After you wear it for so long, you just kind of get used to running with it," he said. "It's not that bad. You get so used to it. It's just there."
Bill Belichick may be at risk of losing his top lieutenants, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, to head coaching positions elsewhere, but for now they're still Patriots — and acting like it, too.
Both men were mum regarding their situations during a conference call Monday.
"There's nothing to report," said the 39-year-old McDaniels, who reportedly turned down interview opportunities last week. "I'm excited for this week right now and don't really have anything to add to it."
Said the 41-year-old Patricia, when asked specifically about his interview with the Browns: "Really for me, this is all about Kansas City right now. That's where my focus is and that's kind of where my attention is."
New England has to replace director of pro scouting Bob Quinn, whom the Lions introduced Monday as their general manager. Quinn, a Norwood native and UConn graduate, had been with the organization since 2000.
"Of course I'm happy for Bob," said Belichick. "He has done a great job for us and really been one of the foundation blocks from the last decade and a half.
"He does a lot of things — did a lot of things — for us, pro and college, but it's a great opportunity for him. It's a great organization."
Ernie Accorsi, a longtime NFL executive who recently joined the Lions as an adviser, helped choose Quinn and was in contact with Belichick throughout that process, according to the Patriots coach.
Belichick was a coach in Detroit in 1976-77. Before the Ford family bought the team in the 1960s, Belichick's father, Steve Belichick, played for the Lions in 1941.
"That's certainly a first-class operation," Belichick said. "Other than when we see [Quinn], which isn't very frequently, I wish him and the Lions all the best."
For his part, Quinn told reporters in Detroit he has "a great relationship" with McDaniels and Patricia.
"I think they're both ready and willing to be head coaches," Quinn said.
Sense of urgency
A strong wind whipped through a chilly Patriots practice Monday, and almost everybody was there to enjoy/endure it.
The lone exception during the portion open to the media was special teamer Nate Ebner, who was seen last week with a cast on his right arm. Ebner was wearing long sleeves when spotted in the locker room Monday afternoon.
After sticking to walkthroughs during the bye week, the team had a full practice in shells and sweats to start a week that will end with a divisional-round playoff game against Kansas City.
"Guys had a lot of energy," said Devin McCourty. "Guys came out today and were anxious to get back out there.
"You watch four games throughout the weekend, playoff football, and you see how fine of a line it is between winning and losing.''
"That gives everyone a sense of urgency of we have to earn the chance to come back in here Monday and still be working on this season.
"Whether it's Tom [Brady], the oldest guy in the locker room, down to one of the rookies, the youngest guy, a lot of energy today, knowing it starts. This is the buildup of going into the weekend."
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski wore a No. 33 Zdeno Chara hoodie to the podium Monday. "We lift the same amount of weight and are both the same size, so I figured it'd work out pretty good," he said of the 6-foot-9-inch, 250-pound Bruins captain . . . Former Central Florida receiver J.J. Worton signed with the Patriots, according to a tweet from NZONE Sports Management Agency, which represents the undrafted rookie. Multiple reports indicated Worton will join the practice squad. Worton, who tore his ACL in November 2014, caught 168 passes for 2,360 yards and 21 touchdowns in four college seasons. He averaged 14 yards per catch.