FOXBORO -- There’s no way to explain how football changes when the schedule turns from the regular season to the postseason. You can try and explain it to a youngster who hasn’t gone through the process, but chances are they won’t be fully prepared until they step on the field.



Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will officially be introduced as the new head coach at Penn State on Saturday, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

FOXBORO -- In a rare interview Thursday, Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes said he feels “good” and is anxious for the postseason to begin. Spikes, who suffered a right knee injury that left him sidelined for seven games, talked with reporters for the first time since suffering the injury in the loss to the Giants.

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Wes Welker missed their second straight day of bye-week practice on the main Gillette Stadium field on Thursday. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who did attend on Wednesday, was also not spotted Thursday as six players were absent for the open media portion at the start of practice. 

Also missing a second straight day were three offensive linemen, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins and Marcus Cannon. 

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick confirmed that offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien was not available for the team's Thursday practice at Gillette Stadium. Numerous reports have the Patriots coordinator headed to State College, Pa. to interview for the Penn State head coach job, replacing the deposed Joe Paterno. 

"He will not be at practice today," Belichick announced after a pause, when asked if O'Brien would be available to the team on Thursday. 

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady finished the season with a flourish, leading the Patriots to eight straight wins and throwing for 11 touchdowns, earning him his second straight AFC Offensive Player of the Month award of 2011, as announced Thursday by the team.

FOXBORO -- Patriots offensive lineman and cancer survivor Marcus Cannon was selected by his teammates as the recipient of the 2011 Ed Block Courage Award, as announced by the team on Thursday morning. The honor is voted on by teammates and bestowed annually upon the player who best exemplifies the principles of courage and sportsmanship while also serving as a source of inspiration. Cannon and award winners from the 31 other NFL teams will be honored at the 34th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards Banquet in Baltimore on March 13, 2012.

FOXBORO -- To be considered a truly great team in the NFL, you not only have to be physically tough, but mentally resilient as well.



Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien will interview for the head coaching job at Penn State on Thursday, according to Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network. O'Brien, who has been linked to several jobs over the last month -- including the offensive coordinators' job in Kansas City and the head coaching job in Jacksonville -- has been part of the New England coaching staff since 2007, and worked his way to his current position this season. For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Patriots defensive back Sterling Moore was named the Pepsi Rookie of the Week, the NFL announced Wednesday. Moore had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, in the Patriots' 49-21 victory over the Bills. He also added two passes defensed and a tackle. He is the first undrafted player to win Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors this season. For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.