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Monday January 23, 2017
Posted: Dec 18, 2013

Christmas, NSA, Tom Petty and Position Changes

In The Huddle

Sometimes you travel to Foxborough to check out the New England Patriots and you come back with a nearly-blank notebook and a dazed look. Other days, like Tuesday, you have so much good stuff you could fill a couple of blogs.

Like this week. I'll be blogging off Tuesday's interviews and press conferences all week!

They covered a lot of topics and including a lot of laughs.

So let's get to the highlights:

- I think John Harbaugh gave the best 15-minute conference call I've ever heard. He was not only forthcoming about his team and how the Ravens have won their last four (and five of their last six) to get back in the playoff race, but he produced some great lines.

He was asked by a reporter if it was difficult to prepare for the Patriots not knowing whether rookie wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson (who have both missed the last two games with injuries) would play. His response: "I was hoping you guys could provide me with some information along those lines.''

Of course, everyone laughed because the media covering the Patriots is always the last to be told about injuries.

When it was suggested he would have to go through the NSA to do that, he replied, "I don't think even they could crack Bill Belichick's phone line.''

Later he was asked if New Orleans (and his team's Super Bowl championship) seemed a lifetime ago given everything that has happened this season. Again, he didn't disappoint:

"Yes. I was listening to my iPod today and a great song came on: Tom Petty's Runnin' Down a Dream. And if you go back and listen to the words on that song, it kind of hits on all those things - you're in the dark and you can't see where you're going sometimes. It's a mystery but you have hope that  you're going to come out the other end. To me, where I'm at today, at this one moment in time, Tom Petty summarizes it best.''

- Bill Belichick was equally strong in his press conference, in a different way of course. He spoke highly of  Logan Mankins and his switch to left tackle last week (and possibly this week) after Nate Solder received a second concussion. He then spoke about other players who have shown the ability to switch positions.

But the highlight may have come when he was asked about the holidays.

Asked how he had executed his Christmas shopping thus far, he said, "Poorly.''

And does he have a favorite Christmas song?

"Actually I enjoy all of them. I really do. Pretty much whichever one comes on, it puts a smile on my face. It's a great time of year.''

No Grinchy Belichick here.

Tom Brady, who for some reason insists on wearing a knitted hat to his press conferences, was also asked about his Christmas shopping.

",'' he said. "I probably keep them in business.''

Then he added, "It's hard to find your wife something on''

And for that, Giselle is probably smiling.

- And finally there was a lot of talk about Mankins, a Pro Bowl left guard for the Patriots, moving over to left tackle for Solder, who suffered his second concussion in two games.

Mankins played there in the fourth quarter in last week's loss at Miami and was a left tackle in college. He's not worried about that switch. He feels he could play every position on the offensive line.

Even tight end?

"I can catch,'' he said. "I don't know if I can get open.''


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