Patriots Go Hard with Padded Practice
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (973espn.com) - The New England Patriots ramped up their preparations for Super Bowl LII on Wednesday with a padded practice session at Winter Park in Eden Prairie.
With temperatures rising into the 30s and expected to drop drastically tonight, the Pats went inside the bubble, probably a prudent decision because U.S. Bank Stadium is an indoor venue.
“We're getting there,” coach Bill Belichick told a pool reporter after the session. “Every year is a little bit different because we're a little bit different and the team we play is a little bit different. But I think we're doing the best we can.”
The main issue for Belichick is the health of his two offensive superstars -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Brady was wearing black tape on his injured right hand days after getting 12 stitches removed and was able to practice fully in an atmosphere that was heavy on red-zone work and situational football, always a big part of Doug Pederson's preparation as well with the Eagles.
Brady showed up for his post-practice media session with one glove on his right hand and it was not an homage to Michael Jackson.
Gronkowski, meanwhile, practiced on a limited basis but remains in the NFL's concussion protocol after getting knocked out of the AFC Championship Game.
"We "red-jerseyed" him today so he's working his way back,” Belichick said.
Later the coach confirmed the "red-jersey" aspect was just precautionary causing some confusion but cleared it up by saying Gronk has yet to pass the protocol.
Gronk is expected to play, however.
The only other Pats that weren't a full go at the practice were defensive linemen Deatrich Wise (concussion) and Malcom Brown (foot).
"It varies during the season -- short weeks, long weeks,” Belichick said of his hard practice and the schedule. “But we had a week in Foxboro and now it's kind of our day to hit the tempo here and tomorrow will be a little less, Friday will be a little less.”
The Patriots return to the next two days before Super Bowl LII on Sunday.
The Eagles also practiced at the University of Minnesota without defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who was out with an illness.
Those banged up but able to practice fully were defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf), running back Jay Ajayi (ankle) and middle linebacker Dannel Ellerbe (hamstring).