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November 6, 2012

Rested Patriots back at practice after bye week

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — With healthier bodies and refreshed minds, the New England Patriots returned to work on Tuesday after a few days away from the field.

They were back at practice after a bye week that followed a cross-ocean trip to London two weeks after a cross-country journey to Seattle.

The burden of those travels made the time off welcome, even if the break might stifle any momentum the Patriots gained by routing the St. Louis Rams 45-7 in England for their second consecutive win.

“Your body doesn’t mind hitting pause for a little bit,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said Tuesday. “We understand the things that we were doing well and the things that we need to improve upon, but I think rest is equally important and we were able to get that this past week.”

The Patriots lead the AFC East with a 5-3 record and the remaining schedule shouldn’t be as draining.

Only three of the eight games are on the road, and all three on the East Coast — at the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. Their two toughest opponents, the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers, have to travel the farthest of the five visitors.

“That’ll be huge,” Slater said.

“It’ll be nice not to have to travel half way across the world. Obviously, that kind of travel takes a toll on your body.”

Those bodies are feeling better after not being pounded last Sunday. The mental break also was welcome.

“There definitely was a sense of relief from all of us, coaches and players, of just not having to game plan last week,” coach Bill Belichick said, “not having the whole mental pressure of coming up with a game plan of each day, thinking of game plans and adjustments and red-area game plans and adjustments and third-down and two-minute and goal-line (plays) and just the weight of studying for a final exam, if you will.

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