Super Bowl LIII Daily Pool Reports - Patriots vs Rams

Los Angeles Rams Practice (January 31, 2019)

By Charean Williams (Pro Football Writers of America)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia -- The Rams practiced outside on the grass fields at the Falcons' training facility Thursday. They started the work day under sunny skies and 51 degrees.

"It really was [the plan to go outside]," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "We were flexible with it, but I think just having the ability to go outside and get on this surface, we felt like it was going to be a little bit better on our bodies, and the weather allowed us to do that, so it was a great day."

The Rams started with a walk-through before stretching and then a one-hour, 10-minute practice. The sun set and the temperature dropped to 47 degrees by the time the Rams finished at 6:06 p.m.

"Yeah, it went down quick," McVay said. "That was why we were trying to stay on a tight schedule. We got a lot of good work in, a lot of things we can coach off of. The main thing was I thought the guys came out and competed the right way and gave us a chance to get better today."

The Rams had a compete period with the first-team offense against the first-team defense to start before both units got work against the scout team. The Rams had a special teams period in the middle.

"We definitely got everything done we wanted to," McVay said. "Thursdays really have been our big work day, and we got a lot of work in, and because of where we are with the game plan, that enabled us to go more situationally in the framework of a series as opposed to just practicing third down and red zone all in one sequence. You do it like a move-the-ball, and I thought that was good because that's how you play a game, and it forced our players to think a little bit more than we're accustomed to."

McVay called it a spirited practice.

"It was a good way to start out competing," McVay said. "We want to come out fast, and that's going to be important in this game, and that's what today represented."

The Rams practiced in jerseys, sweats (with a few brave souls wearing shorts) and helmets. They were in pads once last week.

"We went last Thursday [in pads]," McVay said. "But the way that our guys have done it, we say, ‘OK, we come in and we go to work,' and these guys know how to practice without pads on and still get as much as we want. The main reason sometimes we end up wearing pads is just because it prevents some of the shoulder injuries and collisions. But peaking at the right time, we gave them off the pads, and we still got a bunch of good work in today."

Kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) and safety Blake Countess (foot) both were limited Thursday. Zuerlein did not kick. He will kick again Friday.

"The plan all along has been for [Zuerlein to kick] tomorrow," McVay said. "We're right on track. He'll kick tomorrow.

"I talked to him today. He's feeling good. That's kind of been the plan all along, so we're right on track where we want to be."

Countess was upgraded after being listed as out of the team's walk-through Wednesday. He appears on schedule to play Sunday.

"I think he's going to be good," McVay said. "I'll be interested to see how his foot felt when I talk to him when we go inside. But for him to get out here and get some movement, again, that was kind of on par with the course as far as how we anticipated this thing going when he ended up hurting that foot a couple of weeks ago."

New England Patriots Practice (January 31, 2019)

By Jenny Vrentas (Pro Football Writers of America)

ATLANTA -- The Patriots held a walk-through practice Thursday afternoon at Georgia Tech's indoor practice facility, focusing on situational plays during the one-hour, 20-minute session. Every player was a full participant, except for starting linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who did not attend the workout due to an illness.

"We'll evaluate him tomorrow," head coach Bill Belichick said, when asked about Hightower's prognosis.

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who was limited on Wednesday with a calf injury, did everything in today's session. Belichick expects him to practice Friday and be available moving forward. "If something happens tomorrow, that will be a different story, but I'd say he looks alright," Belichick said.

Players were dressed in sweats or workout clothes (no jerseys) and did not wear helmets, except for the quarterbacks and defensive players who have the coach-to-player communication systems. Most players wore sneakers, though Tom Brady was in his cleats. Belichick noted that the team has already gotten in five practices since the AFC Championship Game, and will have another full-speed session on Friday, so he opted for the walk-through today.

"We got a lot out of the walk-through today and were able to run more plays at a slower tempo," Belichick said. "So that's the advantage. Practicing (at full speed) you get better tempo, you just get fewer plays."

The starting offense and defense worked at opposite ends of the field against the scout team, focusing on third-down, red-zone and goal-line situations, in addition to some review. The team was relaxed but also focused, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels rattling off play calls and Brady calling out adjustments to his receivers' splits and routes. The Patriots also reviewed all the kicking situations—field goal, kickoff and punt—in between the periods when the offense and defense were working. The specialists did not kick in the walk-through; they kicked yesterday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where Super Bowl LIII will be played, and will do so Friday as well.

Right guard Shaq Mason was wearing a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt with the logo of Georgia Tech, his alma mater. Georgia Tech hung a "Welcome Back, Shaq" sign outside the locker room at their facilities, and Belichick also had Mason give the team a welcome message on Monday, similar to what linebacker Elandon Roberts did when the team practiced at Roberts' alma mater, the University of Houston, before Super Bowl LI.

"The Georgia guys are not thrilled being at Georgia Tech," Belichick quipped, referring to starting center David Andrews and running back Sony Michel, who both played for the University of Georgia. "But that's alright. They'll get over it."

Los Angeles Rams Practice (January 30, 2019)

By Charean Williams (Pro Football Writers of America)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia -- The Rams got back into their routine Wednesday afternoon with a one-hour, 33-minute practice at the Falcons' team facility in Flowery Branch.

"It was great," Rams coach Sean McVay said, "and it was good really for players and coaches. You almost get away from it a couple of days. It's good just to sharpen yourself up, making sure we're tightening all the screws on the game plan. I thought the players did a nice job just getting a little bit of a lather. It was really a big emphasis on above the neck, and then tomorrow and Friday will be good to kind of finalize the week."

The Rams' routine is a walk-through on Wednesdays. They got back to work with no helmets -- other than those with the coach-to-player communication system -- and no hitting while going at half speed.

Since Week 4, the Rams have held lighter practices on Wednesdays.

"Really where I got it from was just learning from our training staff as far as a sports-science approach, just being smart with our players," McVay said. "Earlier in the year, we end up practicing on Wednesdays and then depending upon where we are injury-wise or how our team is feeling, for us this year was after Week 4, we ended up tailoring our Wednesdays back. Guys have handled it really well. I think it's been good from a performance standpoint. We're able to get a lot of reps, but we don't get as much physical work as you'd like, but that's why the Thursdays and the Fridays are so important to us."

Even though it wasn't full speed, the Rams were all business as the offense worked against the offense and the defense against the defense for two periods with a special teams period in between.

"I think really it's good for me to go back and kind of clean some things up and make sure the players feel as comfortable and as confident as possible going into tomorrow and most importantly Sunday," McVay said.

Safety Blake Countess (foot) remained out while kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) was limited. Those were the only two players listed on the team's injury report.

"Greg Zuerlein kicked a little bit, and he's on track," McVay said. "And I believe Blake will be good, but we want to be smart with him earlier this week."

Countess, who was listed as questionable on the team's status report Friday, did some work with the trainer on the side at the start of practice.

"Feel good, feel really good [injury-wise]," McVay said. "I think Blake will be OK with his foot and same thing with Greg. Really that's all you can ask for this time of year to be as healthy as we are."

The Falcons have made the Rams feel as at home as possible with Rams' signage throughout the facility.

"They've done a great job," "I really just think it's been a first-class operation since we got here in Atlanta. They've made us feel very welcome. They've done an outstanding job of being great hosts. The facility was set up, and we really can't ask for much more than that."

New England Patriots Practice (January 30, 2019)

By Jenny Vrentas (Pro Football Writers of America)

ATLANTA -- The Patriots held their first practice in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, wearing helmets and shells for an 88-minute session in Georgia Tech's indoor practice facility, just over a mile from the team's downtown hotel.

There was one addition to the injury report: Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was limited today with a calf injury, head coach Bill Belichick said. Brown was at practice wearing his helmet but spent most of the session on the sideline. Everyone else was a full participant, Belichick said.

"He did some stuff early in practice today," Belichick said of Brown. "Everybody else was good to go."

The Patriots began practice at 12:30 p.m., starting with some walk-through plays and a special teams period. The starting offense and defense then alternated driving the length of the 80-yard turf field, running 11-on-11 plays against the scout team mimicking the Rams personnel.

Quarterback Tom Brady looked sharp, starting off with a few up-tempo plays as the team piped in Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," raising the music's volume before the offense was preparing to snap the ball. Brady celebrated one successful play by raising his arms to make the touchdown signal. He continued encouraging his teammates through practice, at one point offering a thumbs-up and later patting his offensive linemen and receiver Phillip Dorsett on the helmet. Brady ended the final period of practice with two touchdown passes against the scout-team defense. Afterward, players did some extra individual work on the field, and Brady stayed with center David Andrews and a few offensive teammates to practice exchanges and handoffs.

"We are way ahead of where we normally are on Wednesday, but we are trying to keep it as a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday and get into our normal routine, which has worked pretty well for us this year," Belichick said.

The Patriots held one padded practice in Foxborough last week and opted to work in just upper shells today.

"We were in pads last week," Belichick said. "I think we will be ready to go."

Belichick seemed pleased with the Patriots' set-up in Atlanta, noting "there is not a lot of travel time" between their hotel and Georgia Tech's campus. The Patriots practiced indoors all last week while they were still in Foxborough, and will conduct all their work indoors this week as well. "There are 20-story skyscrapers surrounding the field," Belichick said. "I don't think we can have a public practice out there."

The CBS broadcast team that will be calling Super Bowl LIII, including play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz, color commentator Tony Romo and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson, was in attendance. Before the Patriots headed to shower and make the approximately 10-minute bus ride back to the hotel, Belichick gathered his players at the middle of the field for a brief message with a few reminders.

"What our schedule is, what we need to do between now and tomorrow in terms of preparation, physical and mental," Belichick said. "We are getting there. We've still got four days, really. But we are getting there."

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NFL Football: Super Bowl LIII Pool Reports - Patriots vs Rams