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Quick Kicks: Thu. 1-19 Practice/Locker Room Notebook

Erik Scalavino offers his practice and locker room notes as the Patriots prepare to play the Ravens in the AFC Championship


… The biting wind died down significantly today, making for a seemingly warmer climate when the Patriots went out for their second practice of AFC Championship Game Week. Once again, the team was in shells, helmets, and sweats for today's session down on their single practice field behind Gillette Stadium.

… QB Tom Brady fulfilled a promise he made to reporters earlier today, when he said he'd be back at practice after missing yesterday's. He was resting the left shoulder that he injured against Miami on Christmas Eve and has played through ever since. He took part fully in today's workout, along with the same three teammates listed yesterday: CB Kyle Arrington (foot), C Dan Connolly (groin), and WR Matthew Slater (shoulder).

… Fourteen others, like yesterday, were limited for various reasons: 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.

… Down in Baltimore, Ravens safety Ed Reed (left ankle) remains the one and only player on their injury report. He's been limited both days of practice this week.

… New England seems to be a more relaxed, confident bunch coming off their win over Denver. Even though they say they're focused squarely on Baltimore this week, players admit that they feel like they're peaking at the right time. "I think so. We're playing good team ball right now," said defensive end Mark Anderson. "Last week, we held Denver to 10 points. That was one of our best performance as a whole. We tackled, swarmed to the ball, played with a lot of energy. We're out here making plays right now." Added linebacker Dane Fletcher, "Yeah, our defense played well last week. We take a lot from that and carry it over to this game. As a unit, combined, you feel confident about everyone you're playing around."

… The Patriots announced that former linebacker Tedy Bruschi will be the third of four honorary captains for New England this Sunday for the coin toss of the Ravens game. He'll join former wide receiver Troy Brown, former cornerback Ty Law, and a fourth player from the 1996 AFC Champion squad to be unveiled tomorrow. Many of the current players are using this as an opportunity to motivate themselves for Sunday's AFC Championship. "They've brought a lot to this organization in the past with Super Bowl wins," Fletcher remarked. "I think that's something everyone wants, to create your own little niche in the organization and be remembered. One of my coaches always said, 'You'll be soon forgotten or long remembered.' I kind of live by that."

… Yesterday, TE Rob Gronkowski explained the genesis of his trademark spikes after touchdowns. Now, fans could reap the benefits by imitating him. CBS Scene is sponsoring a Gronk Spike contest from 4-7 p.m. Friday. The winner gets tickets to the AFC Championship Game. As Gronk himself might say, "That'd be pretty cool."

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