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.”