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Belichick …downright giddy?

FOXBOROUGH -- OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

But the enigmatic Patriots coach – one of the most evil villains in Jets and Giants circles – was unexpectedly upbeat and downright pleasant in his Thursday morning presser here at Gillette Stadium.

Known for being more tight-lipped about injuries than Tom Coughlin, Belichick surprisingly smiled when the topic was broached today.

“One of your favorite topics … injuries,” a reporter said, gingerly tiptoeing a line that usually elicits terse, muttered responses from the Patriots head guy.

But Belichick played along, demonstrating that he does in fact have a fun side.

“That would actually be No. 1,” he responded, garnering laughs from the packed media room.

Tight end Rob Gronkowsi, who sprained his ankle in Sunday’s AFC championship win over Baltimore, will not practice today, according to Belichick. “We’ll just have to see,” he said. “…Take it day by day. I’m not going to try to forecast where things will be 10 days from now. Just take it day by day.”

Speaking of the Ravens … Belichick was asked to compare and contrast the defenses of Baltimore and the Giants.

“They’re different. They’re both good. Baltimore has their way of doing things, Giants have their way of doing things. Both have been successful,” the coach said, initially taking the bait.

“But we don’t really care about Baltimore anymore. We’re done with them.”

Belichick was just as complimentary of his Super Bowl XLVI opponent as he was in his Tuesday conference call with reporters. Calling the Giants “a solid, solid organization” and “well-balanced” team, the New England head coach said the Patriots will need a solid team effort to stop the Giants.

Asked if he’s more concerned about stopping the running vs. the passing game, Belichick replied: “All of it.”

“They’re very good offensively. They’re strong across the board,” he said. “They’ve got good backs, [Ahmad] Bradshaw and, of course, [Brandon] Jacobs, got a lot of production from [Jake] Ballard the tight end, the receiving corps been productive with a number of guys. Certainly, Cruz has had a tremendous year, Nicks is back, Manningham, so, yeah, they’re strong at that position. They’re strong at all the skill positions.

“…They got a lot of different guys to stop and you can’t just say ‘We’re going to stop one thing.’ They’ll kill you with another one. …Even though you kind of know what they’re going to do, they can still go out there and do it.”

And as for the assumed competitive advantage of having a week to prepare for the Giants, Belichick said don’t believe the hype.

“I don’t think we have an edge,” he said, matter-of-factly. “We have the same amount of time they do." They have the same amount of time as we do.” 

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