New England Patriots practice pool report
By Alex Marvez
Pro Football Writers of America
Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- New England tight end Rob Gronkowski's return
highlighted Thursday's Super Bowl XLVI practice at Indianapolis Colts
Appearing in the second half of the nearly two-hour session, Gronkowski
participated on a limited basis for the first time since suffering a
sprained left ankle January 22 during New England's 23-20 AFC
Championship game victory over Baltimore.
"He did some things. He didn't do everything," Patriots head coach Bill
Belichick said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. I think that will be the
big key – how he responds to this today."
Asked how encouraged he was by what Gronkowski did Thursday, Belichick
said, "It was good. It was fine. We'll see where he is tomorrow --
whether that set him back, whether it didn't and whether he's able to
continue to progress on a daily basis. But it was a good test for him,
too, at least. At least he was out here and did some things to see how
it feels. We'll see how it goes."
Gronkowski enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons for a tight end in
NFL history with 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Working in helmets and shells, the Patriots ran a gamut of offensive,
defensive, and special-teams drills inside the Indiana Farm Bureau
Football Center. Belichick said his players had "good energy. They
Helping to set the tempo early was Patriots defensive line coach Pepper Johnson. A two-time super bowl winner as a New York Giants linebacker,
Johnson screamed encouragement during the opening kickoff work and even
tried to playfully tackle linebacker Tracy White after throwing an
interception during a defensive line drill.
"Pepper's got a lot of energy," Belichick said with a smile.
On Wednesday, Belichick made the strategic move of taking a 30-minute
break during the middle of practice to mimic the extended halftime
coming for Sunday's matchup against the Giants.
"We were trying to simulate the best we can," Belichick said. "It's not
perfect but it's the best we could do. Practice, take a break, come
back out and re-start."
Belichick said Friday's practice would be "more review. Obviously, we
don't have much new going in. Just kind of making sure everything we
have going in we've got right."
Asked if he was doing anything different during practices than prior to
New England's previous four Super Bowl appearances under his guidance,
Belichick said, "I think each one's different. Each team is different
and each preparation is a little bit different depending on what the
needs are, your opponent, where your team is, how experienced they are
and so forth. There are little tweaks here and there but it's basically
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Patriots Practice Notes: Thursday
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