FOXBORO -- It was Patriots coach Bill Belichick who broke the news to players Thursday morning that they'd be moving on with Josh Gordon. Later in the day, it came out that the wide receiver had been placed on the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his reinstatement under the NFL's substance abuse program.
The reaction from several Patriots teammates in the locker room was to express concern for Gordon's well-being.
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"I think we have a tendency to be so infatuated with what's going on on the football field as players as media members that we lose sight of what's going on with the man sometimes," Matthew Slater said. "Our real concern is with him as a man. Thankful for the approach he took here. How he was as a teammate. I enjoyed getting to know him, that process and will continue to support him any way that I can and be praying for him. That's the No. 1 concern is to see him be fine, be OK. That's what we'll be praying for."
"I felt bad for him," Devin McCourty said. "The way you guys felt when you read it was how most of us felt. I would say that sums it up. As people, we feel for that . . . As guys in this locker room, we care more about him getting well and all of those things more than catching passes."
Outside of the questions being asked, Thursday's locker room had the feel of a typical Thursday. Players discussed that day's practice among themselves. Others joked with each other and members of the media.
Would describe locker-room vibe as no different the norm, despite the surprise news with Josh Gordon. One example: Here is Deatrich Wise Jr., standing on a stool at far rught, attempting to play role of reporter during Devin McCourty interview. pic.twitter.com/6sWYR0j8x5 — Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 20, 2018
And the focus remained on this weekend's game with the Bills. When asked how the team will move forward without Gordon, that was the overwhelming response.
"I think just understanding guys gotta step up and continue to get better," Trey Flowers said. "Guys gotta step in and play in a role. But it's nothing new.
"If you lose a guy to injury you gotta do the same thing. Next man up. If you lose a guy to anything personally you gotta do the same thing. It's nothing new as far as lose a guy, guys gotta step up and contribute."
McCourty wondered aloud if anyone wanted to ask about the Bills game, which he described as absolutely vital to the Patriots.
"Just keep playing," he said. "I think we realize the task we have at hand Sunday -- game that we feel is a must-win. We gotta go out here play well at home get a win. Coming off of back-to-back losses. That remains the focus of the team."
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