Byline: Rich Garven
FOXBORO - The Patriots raised the deflector shields and went into lockdown mode in the wake of the Julian Edelman incident.
Edelman, a third-year receiver, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to one count of indecent assault and battery after having been charged with groping a woman at a Boston bar during a Halloween night party.
Edelman showed up for work at Gillette Stadium yesterday, but never appeared in the locker room during the 45 minutes it was open to the media. So it was left to his coach and teammates to face a line of questioning about the embarrassing episode and the impact it might have on preparations for Sunday's game here against the New York Giants.
Bill Belichick rambled on and on about his relationship with Giants counterpart Tom Coughlin and even addressed the topic of the Patriots' dramatic loss to New York in Super Bowl XLII during his regularly scheduled press briefing.
But when it came to Edelman, the coach - big surprise - made like a clam out of water.
"I don't have any comment," Belichick said. "I think his representatives made their comment. I don't have anything to add to it."
Don Yee, Edelman's agent, released a statement Tuesday in which he promised the charges would be "vigorously" fought.
Belichick did admit he'd spoken with Edelman since the incident ("of course," he said), but cited coach-player confidentially when asked what was discussed. He wouldn't say if he was disappointed in Edelman or if the Patriots have a discipline problem - as in lack of - seeing how tight end Rob Gronkowski was involved in a photo incident with a porn star late last month.
Belichick wouldn't divulge whether Edelman, who was a full participant in yesterday's practice, had been disciplined by the team or whether he'd play Sunday.
"We'll play the best players we can for the game, like we always do," Belichick said. "It won't be any different this week than any other week."
Edelman has sat out the last three games. He was a healthy scratch against the Steelers last weekend and missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. He is also the team's best kick and punt returner, and his absence has been felt in those areas.
The Patriots handle each off-the-field situation on a case-by-case basis.
Gronkowski, as best anyone can tell, wasn't disciplined after letting a porn star be photographed wearing his No. 87 Patriots game jersey, which the organization didn't think highly of.
But star receiver Wes Welker was benched...