Patriots preparing for trip to London to play Rams
The New England Patriots mascot leads the team onto the field before an NFL football game between the Patriots and the New York Jets in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Purchase photo reprints »
FOXBOROUGH (AP) — Before he plays at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Patriots running back Shane Vereen wants to make a stop at Buckingham Palace.
“I just want to see the soldiers outside of the Palace that can’t smile,” a smiling Vereen said Tuesday. “I just want to take a picture.”
And then he’ll play for the usually dour coach Bill Belichick in New England’s second trip in four years to London where they’ll face the St. Louis Rams.
“The time change, the travel — that’s certainly different than most normal games,” Belichick said, “but it’s not anything we haven’t dealt with before. We’ve traveled to the West Coast. We’re just going the other direction. Hopefully, we’ll be able to deal with it.”
The Patriots went to London in 2009, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-7, but most players on that New England team won’t be with this one when it travels across the Atlantic Ocean on a red-eye Thursday night.
For Vereen, in his second NFL season, it will be his first trip to Europe.
“I’m excited to go, see what it’s all about and be able to play somewhere else, but at the same time we do have to go get a ‘W,’” Vereen said, adding, “I think it’s fun” more than the inconvenience of making a long trip in the middle of the season.
“I think it will be a good thing for us. I think it will be a good thing for St. Louis as well,” he said. “Middle of the season, you kind of start getting into the lull, the every-day routine. So to break the routine a little bit and get to go out of the country, I think will be something fun.”
Injured safety Steve Gregory, who missed the last two games with a hip injury, visited London with the San Diego Chargers in 2008 and is looking forward to another trip.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “Obviously, I had never been there before so to see London, the overall experience, was just amazing.”
As far as his off-field plans, Gregory joked that he would see Queen Elizabeth, “if she’ll let me.”
Running back Stevan Ridley, asked about visiting the queen, said, “Hey man, if she calls, yeah.”
Placekicker Stephen Gostkowski, who made the 2009 trip, said, “It was a lot of fun and we got a win and hopefully it will be the same experience. It’s a long trip but it’s not too much farther than like when we went to Seattle (Oct. 14). So, it will be a good experience if we play well and can come home with a win.”
As far as what he might like to do this time, Gostkowski said, “I doubt we’ll really have time to really enjoy . go sightseeing, maybe take a tour bus, I don’t know. They haven’t told us the schedule yet. It will be fun if we win and we’ll have a good time.”
The Wembley Stadium field hasn’t gotten great reviews.
“Every field is different, you get used to it,” Belichick said. “It’s a grass field. It’s not the fastest field but we’ve played on plenty comparable to that. It’s a little different environment out there. They do the soccer cheers and the rugby cheers and all that.
“It’s a little less football-oriented.”
NOTES: Gostkowski, who kicked the tying and winning field goals last Sunday in a 29-26 overtime win over the New York Jets, said, “I got a chance to help the team and I came through. It was fun. It was a good feeling to come out with a win, a division win against a team that we like to beat.”... The Patriots have gained more than 350 yards in each of their last 16 games, tying an NFL record set by the Rams (1999-2000), this week’s opponent. “I’m a lot more concerned about wins than yards. I don’t really care about the stats,” Belichick said. “I just care about scoring more points than the other team.”