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Quick Kicks: Fri. 1-20 Practice/Locker Room Notebook

Erik Scalavino offers his notes from the practice field and inside the locker room as the Patriots prepare to play the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship.


… A few inches of snow fell across New England overnight, with several more expected on Saturday. But the sun was out today when the Patriots went out for their final practice of AFC Championship Game Week. Once again, the team was in shells, helmets, and sweats for today's session, which was on the Gillette Stadium game surface.

… Nearly every player was at practice today, the lone exception being practice squad WR Dorin Dickerson. Unclear why he wasn't on the field. Practice squad players are not listed on the injury report.

… QB Tom Brady (left shoulder) is no longer on New England's injury report. He participated fully in practice the past two days after missing Wednesday's workout.

… Fourteen Patriots were limited for various reasons and are listed as QUESTIONABLE for Sunday's game: WR Deion Branch (knee), rookie OL Marcus Cannon (ankle), safety Patrick Chung (right foot), LB Dane Fletcher (right thumb), TE Aaron Hernandez (concussion), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), DL Kyle Love (ankle), LG Logan Mankins (left knee), LB Rob Ninkovich (hip), rookie tackle Nate Solder (concussion), LB Brandon Spikes (right knee), right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/right foot), WR Wes Welker (knee), and LB Tracy White.

… Three others are PROBABLE after participating fully all week: CB Kyle Arrington (foot), C Dan Connolly (groin), and WR Matthew Slater (shoulder).

… Down in Baltimore, Ravens safety Ed Reed (left ankle), the one and only player on their injury report, took part fully in practice after two days of limited work. He is officially listed as PROBABLE.

… Ravens head coach John Harbaugh offered this nugget of wisdom today when asked how the three teams that beat New England this year did so. "They played better than the Patriots in that game. They completed more passes, they ran the ball better, they just played better. That's what they did particularly well." Brilliant.

… Baltimore QB Joe Flacco, who was an abysmal 4-for-10 for 34 yards in the last playoff game between the Ravens and Patriots, told reporters today, "Last time we went up there, it was the Wild Card round. We got out on them really early, and they had a couple turnovers. Our defense forced a couple turnovers, gave us really short fields, and we were able to punch the ball into the end zone. I didn't have to be a big part of it, and that's just the way it goes. If we can get a win like that again, then we'll get a win like that again. Anyway we can get a win we're going to take it."

… The fourth and final honorary captain for the Patriots was announced today. It will be former QB Drew Bledsoe. Via conference call while on a ski trip out west, Bledsoe offered some advice for any current Patriots who are playing in the AFC title game for the first time. It's pretty heavy stuff. You have to get through the first five or 10 minutes of the game when the emotions are so high. Then you settle in and start playing football. Those first few plays of the game, you have a lot of adrenaline and excitement. It takes a little while to settle in and start playing football.

… One of the reasons Patriots owner Robert Kraft decided to bring back Bledsoe, Troy Brown, Ty Law, and Tedy Bruschi as honorary captains for Sunday's game is, as he put it today, he feels a closeness with all his players – past and present – particularly since he lost his wife of nearly 50 years. Kraft called the team his savior this year, along with his children and grandchildren, who've helped him deal with his grief. The team has worn MHK patches on their jerseys – the initials of Myra Hiatt Kraft – and by mid-season, Kraft said he sensed that this year's Patriots would be special. "I'm a great believer in spirituality, so, I'm pretty pleased and excited that we have the privilege of playing in this game at home … You can see the chemistry in the locker room. It's just a feeling, if you go to practice and you see the interactions – the little things, the things in the lunchroom, the pranks they pull on one another, the little groupings of how they interact … you have to have trust and respect for one another. I think this team has it."

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