Bill Belichick: Avoid war of words

Updated: January 12, 2011, 9:04 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick reminded his players Tuesday morning to avoid a war of words with the New York Jets.

"Definitely," linebacker Jerod Mayo said when asked if that was part of Belichick's message to players in their morning team meeting. "That's why I'm hoping no one asks me those kinds of questions [laughing]."

Mayo said Belichick told players to let him handle that.

Already this week, Belichick and Jets coach Rex Ryan have exchanged barbs through the media. Ryan called Sunday's game personal between him and Belichick, saying that's what it comes down to -- the two coaches.

Belichick responded by playfully saying it was a good thing the coaches weren't playing.

The Patriots' locker room was mostly quiet and businesslike Tuesday. Veteran running back Sammy Morris was one of the few players to speak with reporters and described why the team wants to avoid playing the Jets in the press.

"It's talking. We're not really concerned with that," he said. "We're concerned with winning the game and doing what we have to do to win the game."

The scene highlighted the differences between the approaches of the Patriots and Jets. Veteran tight end Alge Crumpler stepped in front of the microphone at his news conference and said: "I didn't have a choice to come up here today. I'd just rather play."

Asked about Ryan's remarks and why the Patriots seldom engage in such chatter, Morris said: "It's noise, I guess. It doesn't really go into big parts of winning the game. In our opinion, it's outside the context of the game, and that's what it is."

Crumpler had a similar take.

"I thought we'd get a few days before some of the banter started," he said. "But it is what it is. I said it the last time we played them -- that team takes after their coach, we take after ours. It all boils down to what you do on the field."

Some players, such as receiver Deion Branch, said they hadn't heard of the exchange between Ryan and Belichick until Tuesday.

"Coach [Ryan] says and do what he do, and we do what we do up here," Branch said. "Whatever you have to do to get his team motivated, I think that's what he's [thinking]."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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