FRANKFURT - The Patriots took to the practice fields at the DFB-Campus Frankfurt on Friday, just a few hours after touching down in Germany. The state-of-the-art facility is home to the German men's national soccer team, who practiced this past fall at the Revolution's practice facility in Foxborough.
It was a brief walkthrough practice, with the bulk of preparations done back in Foxborough, as the team looked to put some final touches on their preparations to play the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
Reporters descended upon the DFB-Campus from countries including Spain, Italy and the U.K. along with a healthy contingent of local Patriots reporters who made the trip. Despite the long flight, head coach Bill Belichick and his players seemed in good moods and excited to be playing on a new stage.
"Good to be in Frankfurt, got in this morning, just kinda rolling along here at a beautiful facility, looking forward to getting out there this afternoon, wrapping up our preparations and getting ready for Sunday," said head coach Bill Belichick kicking off the day.
Much groundwork had already been laid in Frankfurt, as festivities kicked off on Thursday night at Patriots Haus in the Frankfurt Hilton, featuring a live broadcast of Patriots Unfiltered, all six of the team's Super Bowl trophies, appearances by alumni like Vince Wilfork and the Patriots Cheerleaders and much more that made for a fabulous evening. The city was abuzz all week for the second international game in Frankfurt this season, as fans from all over the world made their way to Germany for their first taste of American Football.
"Hope we give them a lot to cheer about," said Belichick when asked about the healthy NFL fan base already present in Germany. "It's a unique experience and it's great for our team, players our staff, Great experience we've played a lot of NFL games, this is one that will be a little different. Focus on playing well, regaining our focus and preparation to go out there and hopefully play our best game of the year on Sunday. That's our goal."
Patriots players recognized the outpouring of support from the international fan base, setting the stage for a new rabid base of supporters who are coming out in force to Germany.
"[The international Patriots fans] have been hitting me up on social media, welcoming me way before I even got here," said safety Jabrill Peppers following the practice. "I didn't know we had such a big fan base here but I'm definitely excited about it."
"It's amazing how much this game has grown," said Matthew Slater. "I think back to my dad's playing career and not for one minute did I ever think a team would fly to Europe and play games. It's been remarkable to see the growth of our game."
The team's running backs looked forward to the change of pace that comes with playing in a new international location, while having a new and different experience.
"I haven't really been out of the country," said Rhamondre Stevenson. "Just being over here, playing the sport I love with my teammates is great."
"It's exciting, it's my first international game, I have family in Finland, they traveled and they'll be able to see me live so that will be cool," said Ezekiel Elliott, who also hoped the trip would help bring the team together. "That's how you create a deeper relationship, getting that camaraderie."
"To be in a new country and spread the game of football is very important, it's a great experience for everybody," said Mac Jones.
But aside from new locations and forging new international ties, one of the team's emerging leaders echoed the head coach and reminded everyone what the true goal is for the team.
"There's only one goal, to win a football game," said Peppers, "It's nice to go to another country but there's only one goal, win the game."
Patriots-Colts kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday from Frankfurt's Deutsche Bank Park. Tune into the Patriots Pregame Show live on Patriots.com and YouTube starting at 8 a.m. ET and then the Post Game Show starting immediately after the end of the game.