FOXBORO — The coaches and players returned to Gillette Stadium  Tuesday after the bye week, rested and ready to begin prep work in earnest for this Sunday’s meeting with the Bills. The chance to mentally recharge and take some time off and get away from the grind of the regular season is a welcome respite, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick .
‘I think any time you get that break it can be a good thing if it’s utilized properly,’ he said. ‘I think there definitely was a sense of relief from all of us, coaches and players, of just not having to game plan last week. 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 and just the weight of studying for a final exam if you will.
‘You’re grinding through a week of preparation and then you go for the final exam, and after you’ve had eight of those, it’s nice to have a week where just one week you don’t have to study, you don’t have to game plan, you don’t have a final exam, you don’t have all the mental adjustments you have to go through. This week, we’re back into it and hopefully we have a little bit of a freshness or a better approach to it than after eight weeks of doing. We’ll see.’
Belichick added that it’s always important to get off to a good start after having the weekend off.
‘You can’t get any days back, so every day is an opportunity,’ Belichick said. ‘We try to make the most out of each day — we can’t get them back. We have more stuff we have to do tomorrow and the next day and so forth. Today is an important day for us, absolutely, but they all are.’
Here are a few other highlights of his Q&A with the media from Tuesday afternoon:
Rob Ninkovich  had a big game in Buffalo and after the game he said he would been frustrated with his own play over the first few weeks. Was it a matter of him settling into the defensive end position and it took him a few weeks or have you seen a change that has sparked him in the last few games?
‘Nothing I could put my finger on. Rob’s been playing that position since he’s been here ‘ end of the line, standing up, three-point stance, whatever it is, it’s been pretty much the same. I wouldn’t say there’s been a lot of change in what he’s done ‘ some, but not a lot. But, he’s certainly been productive and that’s good to see because he’s had a lot of production really all season, but the last four or five games.’
How much can you draw on the first meeting? Can you use it as a reference or has there been a significant amount of change over the past six weeks?
‘I think it’s definitely relevant. It’s going to be a lot of the same matchups, a lot of the same players playing. But they’ve changed, we’ve changed, there will be a few different players in this game, so hopefully. I think it’s relevant but you know how those games go. You play a team twice and the games aren’t the same. One’s a low scoring game, one’s a high scoring game, one team dominates, the other team dominates. I think this game will take on its own characteristics based on how the teams play. Hopefully we can have a good week of preparation and be able to deal with the things they do. They do a good job offensively; Chan [Gailey] does a real good job of mixing it up and keeping you off balance and utilizing his good skill players. We’ll have to do a good job defending it, better than the first game hopefully.’
On Sunday during the bye week, did you find yourself watching division games?
‘I saw most of the Buffalo-Houston game.’
‘Buffalo-Houston. I mean, I saw the end of the game but they were on at the same time. I saw the Buffalo-Houston game.’
Did you utilize the Red Zone channel at all?
‘No, I didn’t get that. I’ll have to see if I can get that with the all the bye weeks that we have.’
What are your thoughts on Visanthe Shiancoe and his return?
‘It’s good to see him back out there. I’d say he’s moving well. He had an opportunity to actually run some of our plays on Thursday, did some scout teams the week before, the St. Louis week. We’ll give it another week here and see how it goes. But I think he’s making progress; it’s good to see him out there.’
When do you have to make the decision?
‘I think it’s Monday at 4. I think, but don’t hold me to that.’
It is always about turnovers but when Buffalo is at their best, they are forcing turnovers. Is this a week when you focus on that more than usual or is it just always at the top of the list?
‘It’s always at the top of the list but I think it’s highlighted at the top of the list. Buffalo, we threw five interceptions against them last year I think. They stripped two off us in the first game, actually three but one was blown dead. They’re good at stripping the ball. [Jairus] Byrd got two interceptions against Arizona really to win that game, he got one off of [Kevin] Kolb , then he got one off of [John] Skelton  in overtime, ran it down and kicked the winning field goal. I think the Arizona game is a great example of Buffalo. They blocked the game winning field goal with three seconds to go, then Byrd intercepts it, runs it down and they kick a game winning field goal. That’s how dangerous they are. They’re dangerous in the kicking game, they turn the ball over on offense and when you have a back that’s averaging seven yards a carry on offense that’s unheard of really these days unless the guy has only had like two carries. This guy, [C.J.] Spiller, is putting up huge production per attempt. They’re first or second in the league in 20-plus yard runs, whatever it is, they’re a very explosive team. But it comes back to turnovers and we have to do a good job of taking care of the ball. If we get an opportunity to take it off them then we have to capitalize on those. It seems like you always get one or two opportunities each week and sometimes you capitalize on them and sometimes you don’t. This is a week that if we get them we have to take advantage of them. We know they’re after the ball so we have to really take care of it.’