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No time for Madonna: Patriots thinking outside the box when it comes to dealing with longer halftime

02.03.12 at 9:03 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been forced to try and get creative when it comes to dealing with the logistics regarding the lengthier halftime New England will face in Sunday’€™s Super Bowl. It’€™ll be twice as long as a usual regular-season break, and Belichick tried to get his team used to it on Wednesday by essentially splitting practice into three parts: The team practiced, took a half-hour break, and then restarted again.

‘€œNormally our halftime is 12 minutes and this halftime will be closer to 30,’€ Belichick said during Friday’€™s press conference. ‘€œIt gets into a whole restarting mentality. It’€™s not like taking a break and coming out in the second half. It’€™s like starting the game all over again. It’€™s like playing a game, stopping, and then playing a second game, a doubleheader in baseball if you will. I think that makes it a little bit different.

‘€œWe tried to simulate that in practice on Wednesday. We had the players go through that process of restarting. You can have a meeting about it, you can talk about this is what it’€™s going to be like. I just felt that it was beneficial for our team, this year, to actually put them through that’€”go out there and warm up, practice, take a break, shut it down for a half hour, go into the locker room, simulate what a halftime would be, in terms of corrections, adjustments, and re-starting our bodies both mentally and physically to restart the game.’€

One player who might be adversely affected by the longer halftime is tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC championship game but returned to practice this week in a limited capacity, will be sitting for a longer-than-usual stretch between the second and third quarters in the locker room. The Patriots want to avoid a repeat of what happened to Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney two years ago — Freeney tore a ligament in his ankle in the AFC title game, and while he played well in the first half, he stiffened up at halftime, and was ineffective down the stretch.

‘€œOnce it gets stiff, it’€™s tough to bring it back,’€ said Freeney afterward.

After the Patriots walkthrough on Friday, Belichick sounded an optimistic note about Gronkowski’€™s ankle.

‘€œHe practiced yesterday. He didn’€™t do anything today,’€ Belichick said of Gronkowski. ‘€œWe’€™ll see where he’€™s at on Sunday, but hopefully (he’€™ll play). I saw no setbacks. He’€™s still making progress.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, dwight freeney, Rob Gronkowski,
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