Thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, the bye week has a new meaning for the NFL players.

The new agreement gives them four consecutive days off, which any player will likely tell you that time away is pretty hard to come by during the regular season.


Wes Welker certainly isn’t complaining about the fact he and the players will get a much needed break thanks to the bye week. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has to be happy with what he’s seen so far through six games.  His team has shown a solid work ethic week-by-week leading up to each one, and they continue getting better each week.

As a result this time will likely be enjoyed by many players spending some much needed time with their families.  Since it started back in August, the players have spent nearly all of that time either out on the field or studying film here in Foxboro, with a daily dose of different things they need to work on in order to meet the demands of one of the best coaches ever to make them.

The bye comes at a somewhat of a good time for New England, who is coming off a tough physical battle with the Cowboys in a last minute 20-16 win in Foxboro last Sunday.  Some fans may think players are viewing this time as a vacation, but the majority of them will likely say that this is a key opportunity to rest up and get ready for the home stretch.

That’s at least that’s how Wes Welker is viewing it, with the veteran wideout saying this is far from “spring break” for the players.

“It’s not like Spring Break in college or anything like that,” Wes Welker told ESPNBoston.com on Wednesday. “Everybody’s still gotta go work out, do some of those things. But you’re not out there running routes and doing all those things that you do on a daily basis. You’re just making sure you’re getting a lot of rest, a lot of sleep.”

The team admittedly has had their fair share of injuries early on, and this break gives some of them time to get treatment and heal, without the rigors of being out on the field.  Yesterday’s session even saw Tom Brady sit back and watch, after he was spotted icing his arm after taking a shot from the Cowboys defense Sunday.

Belichick wouldn’t elaborate on Brady’s condition Wednesday, but basically emphasized that this is a key period for the team to get away from the game so that they can come back “refreshed” for the final 10 weeks of the season.

“I’d say the majority is to take a break,” said Belichick during his press conference Wednesday. “We’re into it yesterday, we’re into it today. Then we’ll take a break and come back, reenergized, hopefully refreshed and ready to go. Hopefully we can take advantage of those couple days to get some things out of the way that have piled up on all of us. Like I said, get some rest, get treatment, get some bumps and bruises taken care of and come back with a full tank of energy.”

Once the lockout ended it’s been full speed ahead for both he and his coaching staff.  They jumped right into it that first week with an incredible flurry of roster moves, and from there it was all about getting the players in and getting right to work.

Now two months later they’re sitting at 5-1 heading into what is more or less thier second half of the season.  Belichick admitted this break will be their first chance to come up for air, but then it’s time to plow through the rest and finish strong.

“Yeah I’d say the other ones have come in shorter, short windows,” said Belichick when asked about if this is the first time off he’s really had since things got going after the lockout. “That’s about right. It’s the way it is every year really. You start training camp and you go until the bye week and then you get a little window and then you go the rest of the way.”

Welker admitted to reporters that the timing of the bye certainly allows them a chance to get both a much needed physical and mental break.

“I think the answer to that, no matter where you are in the season, would be yes,” he told reporters when asked that very question. “Not only from a physical standpoint but a mental standpoint, a lot of times it’s nice to get a few days to kind of relax and get away.”

Hopefully he and the rest of the players get some time to relax and get healed up before they get back to work next week.  New England next plays the Steelers one week from Sunday down in Pittsburgh.