The New England Patriots practice at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility on Thursday, January 29th in preparation for Super Bowl XLIX.
Patriots Practice Pool Report* *By Jarrett Bell,Pro Football Writers of America
On Thursday, as the New England Patriots conducted their second practice of the week since arriving in Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX, it was team owner Robert Kraft sporting a hoodie on the sideline.
Kraft donned a sweatshirt during the latter half of the 1-hour, 56-minute session as sprinkles fell.
The entire practice, held on an outdoor field at the Arizona Cardinals training facility amid temperatures in the mid-60s, came against the backdrop of gray clouds that threatened rain.
Belichick wasn't worried about the weather. Although he could have moved drills inside a practice bubble adjacent to the fields if needed, the coach laughed when asked whether they would have finished practice outdoors in a downpour.
"We're like the U.S. Mail," Belichick contended.
After practicing in full pads during their most intense session of the week on Wednesday, the Patriots were outfitted in shorts and shells as Belichick scaled back the contact.
"Less contact, but still a lot of mental alertness and timing," Belichick said. "They're working hard. Good tempo. We're getting there."
As was the case on Wednesday, every player on the active roster practiced, although a handful of players nursing injuries – Bryan Stork, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, Dont'a Hightower and Akeem Ayers – were officially classified as having limited participation. Ayers was the only new addition to the injury report on Thursday, because of a knee injury.
Tom Brady remains on the report (ankle) as a full participant, having taken all of his projected snap.
Belichick built in blocks of practice time to work on all four phases of the special teams return game – kickoff coverage game, kickoff returns, punt coverage and punt returns. It constituted more special teams work than Wednesday. Practice concluded with field goal work.
The Patriots also worked on their two-minute offense and two-minute defense against scout teams, and spent more time working on red zone offense plays. There were more situational packages, including a sequence that began with Brady and the offense backed up on their 2-yard line.
That situation also prompted the Patriots to blast loud music. The first selection of the day: Ima Boss, a rap song by Meek Mill, featuring Rick Ross.
The Patriots welcomed a special visitor, Arizona State football coach Todd Graham. Belichick chatted with Graham after practice.
"They have a great program," Belichick said. "He's done a good job."
Another coach, Seattle's Pete Carroll, said during his morning press conference on Thursday that he was informed that officials in the Super Bowl will use pronounced hand signals to identify eligible and ineligible players at the line of scrimmage.
"I haven't heard anything about that, so we'll see what happens," Belichick said. "I'll check it out."
Seahawks Practice Pool Report*
*By Peter King, Pro Football Writers of America
TEMPE, Ariz.—The Seattle Seahawks finished a spirited second practice of Super Bowl week with a tremendous individual play by nickel back Jeremy Lane, who knocked a long pass away from wideout Bryan Walters on the final play of the day, causing a score of defensive teammates to sprint on the field and mob Lane inside the Arizona State Sun Devils football practice bubble.
"We had a great day today," said coach Pete Carroll. "The whole season came down to that last play at the end—that's the way we play—and Jeremy Lane comes out of nowhere to make the play. The guy [Walters] catches it, the offense wins. Lane makes the play, the defense wins. It came down to that—the last snap. Really happy with the effort today."
The Seahawks' 1 hour, 28-minute practice was conducted in split shifts—the first 30 minutes outside under threatening skies, and then, when showers hit the area, the last 58 minutes inside the bubble, with loud hip-hop music making it challenging for both offense and defense to hear. One of the benefits of loud music at practice—other than it makes the players happy—is to hone each unit's skill at non-verbal communication. And signals may be necessary in the Super Bowl on Sunday, because you never know how loud the crowd is going to be at certain times. "It only enhanced the day to come inside," said Carroll. "We could make it a little louder. The facilities are good."
Carroll calls the team's Thursday workouts "Turnover Thursdays," during which the defensive and special-teams emphasis is on forcing turnovers—and the offensive mandate is to hold onto the ball. The play of the day on offense was made by Walters, the fifth-year backup receiver from Cornell, who, closely covered by a jousting free safety Earl Thomas, made a one-handed catch of a Russell Wilson line drive. Thomas was so impressed he sought out Walters to shake his hand.
On defense, the best play other than Lane's was an interception by backup cornerback DeShawn Shead, who stepped in front of a wideout and made a tough catch.
Again, all 63 active Seahawks—53 on the active roster and 10 on the practice squad—were healthy and practiced fully, including cornerback Richard Sherman (hyperextended elbow), free safety Earl Thomas (dislocated shoulder) and starting right guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle). Sweezy, in particular, looked back to normal, running freely. "They did great," Carroll said. "No problems with them."
Seattle will continue its preparations Friday with a 1:40 p.m. practice at Arizona State, and conclude preparations for the Super Bowl with an 11 a.m. walk-through practice Saturday morning, also at ASU, before busing 27 miles to University of Phoenix Stadium for a Super Bowl team photo at 1 p.m.