With Dolphins on the horizon, Patriots not enamored of Thursday night games

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FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Don't count New England Patriots player rep Matthew Slater as a supporter of Thursday night football.

"You know, I can't sit here as the player rep of this team and say that I'm a huge fan of it," the special teams captain said Monday as the Patriots got ready to follow Sunday's 30-23 win over the Jets with a Thursday night home game against the Dolphins.

"Obviously, it puts our players in a bind, but I understand why it's being done. I understand that we want to make this game available to our fans as often as possible. But you talk about players' safety and health, it's hard for us to understand how that's catering toward our players' safety and health."

Asked why a plan hasn't been devised to give both Thursday night teams off the previous Sunday, Slater said, "That's not up to me. I don't make the schedules. I don't organize these types of things."

"It's a double-edged sword," he added. "Obviously, there's some great things that come along with the Thursday night games, but at the same time there's some challenges physically for the guys that are out there playing the game. I don't think that's any mystery. You guys are not hearing any new information."

Slated noted that the body knows the difference when not having the proper time to recover from the previous game.

The banged-up Patriots dressed only 18 offensive players for Sunday, and this quick turnaround can't help.

"It's something that's been voiced by several guys, but again, I understand the situation that the league's in and I understand why it's good for our league to play these Thursday night games," Slater said. "But I also understand there are two sides to it and there are some disadvantages to the quick turnaround.

"I don't want to sit here and continue to dwell on that. We're playing Thursday and we've got to be ready to go and we're always excited when we get a chance to take the field."

Tight end Rob Gronkowski shrugged the whole thing off, even seeing the bright side of having time off after Thursday. The Patriots (6-0) opened the season with a home win over Pittsburgh on a Thursday night.

"It's all right. I can handle it," he said. "It's just once a year. Definitely just have to treat your body more, be more physically on top of what you need to be, to rest and be ready for Thursday night.

"What's cool is you got a couple of days off after that, so you just have the mindset right now to just grind it out for the next four days for this game."

NOTES: Coach Bill Belichick said he couldn't recall dressing only 18 offensive players for a game. "Very rare . I don't think I've ever gone with that few players," he said. . Gronkowski, asked about Miami's Chris McCain vowing via Twitter to "crush" New England quarterback Tom Brady, even changing his avatar to depict him crushing Brady's head, said, "You gotta ask Tom. Give Tom that question and he'll probably have a good answer. We'll see. We'll see Thursday night if that guy does that. I think that would be a penalty if he does that. If he wants to do that, give us 15 yards that's fine." . Rookie C David Andrews played all 67 snaps Sunday and is the only Patriots player to play every snap this season. He was an undrafted free agent.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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