ATLANTA – Thursday, the Patriots held their second day of practice here at Super Bowl LIII, and it coincided with the final day of media obligations for the AFC Champions before the big game on Sunday night.
A day earlier, Malcom Brown popped up on the injury report with a calf injury that limited his participation. After today's workout, he seemed in good spirits.
"It went good. I had a good day of practice," the veteran defensive tackle remarked, "still focused on this week, locked in, and ready to play."
Thursday's injury report reflected Brown's assertion, as he was listed as a full participant in today's practice. However, linebacker Dont'a Hightower was held out of action due to an unspecified illness. According to the official pool report from practice, head coach Bill Belichick announced only that Hightower's status would be reevaluated on Friday.
Meantime, Brown's teammates echoed his sentiments about the past couple of days of workouts at Georgia Tech's indoor practice facility here in midtown Atlanta.
"I think things are going good," said defensive end Trey Flowers. "It's important to stay focused. Today we kind of pulled back on [the intensity], but there were still a lot of guys with high energy. Everyone's still excited, still ready to play."
"Practice has gone well. Some smooth practices. Feeling good," observed rookie running back Sony Michel. "Still got another day to go to wrap things up. We made some corrections. We're getting there."
Check out photos of the Patriots practicing at Georgia Tech on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 in preparation for Super Bowl LIII.
New England will practice again on Friday, with meetings and a customary day-before-game walkthrough session expected to take place on Saturday. The closer it gets to game day, the fewer external distractions the Patriots have, giving them a chance to channel all their energies on the Los Angeles Rams, their opponent in Sunday night's Super Bowl.
"We're still working on that. Each and every day grants us another opportunity to improve and get ready to play against a very good football team," cornerback Jason McCourty told reporters Thursday afternoon. "I think practices have gone well. Everybody's focused, locked in to what our game plan is. We're just getting ready the best way we know possible. It's going to be a really, really good game come Sunday going against the best football team we've played this season. I'm just excited for the opportunity to be here in the Super Bowl."
"I think it's gone really well," defensive end Adrian Clayborn agreed. "You can tell everyone pretty much knows the game plan. We're not making many mistakes. I think we're going to be ready to go after the next two days of practice."
For Clayborn and right guard Shaq Mason, this week in Atlanta represents a return to familiar surroundings. Clayborn spent the past three seasons as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, while Mason played his college ball at Georgia Tech. Both men acknowledged that it's been "cool" to be back in Atlanta, but they're more concerned with having a good week of work to prepare for L.A.
"Ultimately, we're here to try to win a game, a championship," declared Clayborn, before Mason maintained, "We're out there trying to get better each and every day. We're trying to get ready to put our best display out there on Sunday."
The pool report, compiled by designated journalist Jenny Vrentas, indicated that Thursday's Patriots practice was a walkthrough that lasted an hour and 20 minutes, but Friday will ramp up to a full-speed, padded session. Third-down, red-zone, and goal-line situations were the predominant focus of Thursday's walkthrough.
Belichick sounded pleased with what he's seen from his squad over the past two days.
"I think our team's done everything we've asked them to do this week. They've been focused, spent a lot of time doing extra things. Look, the players are playing in the biggest game of their life, you're coaching the biggest game of your life. It's a great opportunity to put everything you have into it and do the best you can."