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Nate Ebner (concussion) returns while Alan Branch limited after toe stepped on Wednesday in practice 02.01.17 at 7:28 pm ET
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Alan Branch speaks to media after Wednesday’s practice in Houston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

HOUSTON — Riding that scooterboard might be a little more painful for Alan Branch.

The Patriots nose tackle, who rode about 100 yards on the skateboard from the back of the Patriots charter plane Monday to the team buses, told ESPN’s Mike Reiss he had his toe stepped on while at practice Wednesday, the first full day of workouts at the University of Houston in preparation for Super Bowl LI Sunday at NRG Stadium.

But he added, he’s “feeling good” and not concerned, something that was apparent as he spoke with reporters after practice with a smile.

Nate Ebner (concussion) cleared concussion protocols and was cleared for limited participation.

Martellus Bennett (knee) and Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) were also limited again. In total, six Patriots were limited at the practice which featured full attendance.

Danny Amendola, Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Bolden were all removed from the report on Wednesday.

Here is the complete Patriots injury report for Wednesday.

LIMITED PARTICIPATION

ST Nate Ebner (concussion)
DT Alan Branch (toe)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)

Read More: Alan Branch, Atlanta Falcons, Nate Ebner, New England Patriots
How Bill Belichick is preparing for a game that is ‘unlike any other’ and helping his team avoid ‘burnout’ at 9:47 am ET
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Jan 31, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Patriots head coach Bill Belichick laughs during the New England Patriots media session at the JW Marriott Galleria. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick laughs during the New England Patriots media session at the JW Marriott Galleria. (Michael Madrid/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — When you’ve been to seven Super Bowls, you pretty much know the drill.

Such is the case for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. But even with that experience comes the challenge of pacing yourself on the game day unlike any other in the NFL.

When Brady spoke Monday night of trying to monitor his early energy in Super Bowl LI, he brought up the point about how important it is to save his best play for the end of the game.

“It’s a long day. It’s a long game. There’s long breaks, long halftime, long pre-game, a lot of emotional energy,” Brady said. “I think sometimes what happens is as the game goes on… we scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Seattle. I think some of the best football needs to be played at the end.

“So, you can’t waste all your energy before that. There’s some of these games that get out of hand for one reason or another. We’ve never had those. I hope that… I’d love for it to get out of hand in our hand. We’ve been in too many of these close games to realize its pretty unlikely for that to happen.”

Belichick echoed those sentiments Tuesday and detailed the challenges he faces as a head coach to monitor his players during the early parts of the Super Bowl.

“That’s a very challenging situation because there is so much leading up to the game,” Belichick said. “It’s such a long game between pregame, the start of the game, halftime, TV timeouts and so forth. It just extends longer than what it normally does including the pregame part of it.

“We just try and pace ourselves through that. Some of that is nutrition, hydration and things like that. Part of it is an understanding of what it’s going to be like so you don’t get surprised and get into the middle of the game or the middle of the third quarter. That’s kind of when the game would be ending but there’s still another 20 minutes to play or so. I think understanding that and making sure that the pace of the game for each individual, which is different, for an offensive line or defensive line, the pace is a little different than receivers or defensive backs that are running 30, 40, 50 yards to cover.

“It’s the difference between boxing and distance running. Then, you have a lot of guys in between. It’s definitely challenging but it’s the same for both teams. It’s the same environment. Everyone needs to try and maximize all those things, their rest, attentiveness and pace so they don’t burn out too soon. It’s a challenge. This game is unlike any other that way.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick says Tom Brady puts it all together as ‘a great role model’ for the Patriots at 9:18 am ET
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Jan 22, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick hands quarterback Tom Brady (left) the Lamar Hunt Trophy after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick hands quarterback Tom Brady the Lamar Hunt Trophy after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2017 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — When Bill Belichick finishes up installation of his seventh Super Bowl game plan as a head coach this week, he has little doubt that the offense will understand exactly how he wants it to run on Sunday.

Belichick believes the quarterback has reached the pinnacle game for a record seventh time because of the work he’s put in, on and off the field, setting the best possible example for younger players on the roster.

“Tom works very hard and prepares well. He always has. He’s very diligent in his preparation,” Belichick said Tuesday. “It’s not an up and down thing. It’s consistent every week in terms of learning the defense, learning their schemes and their players. Just getting our game plan so he knows what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

“Then, getting into the situational football as we get closer to the game. He’s very smart and has a lot of experience. In our system he has a lot of experience against defensive coordinators, different players, and different situations. He’s able to put it all together better than any player that I’ve ever coached.”

There’s been plenty of discussion over the past two years about the example Tom Brady has set throughout football.

In his coach’s mind, there’s no doubt what he’s meant to the Patriots.

“Putting all that together at once in just a couple of seconds of time, he has to process it once he gets the calls and gets to the line of scrimmage. I think his preparation allows him to in part do that. He has the football instincts as well. He’s a great role model for all of us. Any player and any coach. All of us.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, Super Bowl LI
An epic Super Bowl answer from Bill Belichick on how watching dad scout was ‘unforgettable experience’ 01.31.17 at 5:13 pm ET
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HOUSTON — No one had a bigger and long-lasting influence on Bill Belichick than did his father, Steve.

In the David Halberstam book “The Education of a Coach” Belichick reveals just what coaching means to him and how his dad guided him to his life’s passion.

Just 12 hours after Tom Brady fought back tears talking about his father’s influence, Belichick gave a nearly five-minute dissertation on exactly how his own father, a 34-year assistant at Navy, guided him on the path he’s enjoying now, as he makes his seventh appearance as a head coach in the Super Bowl.

“He influenced it greatly,” Belichick began. “I grew up going to Navy practices and meetings that he would have with the team. He scouted the Navy upcoming opponents. On Tuesday nights, he would go over to the field house, the team would come over. He would watch the film with them. Of course, back in those days players went both ways so it was kind of [like] you’d watch continuous game film, offense, defense, special teams. But the same guys were out there playing, whether out there on offense or defense.

“So I’d go over there with him and sit and listen to him talk to the team about, ‘Here’s what they’re going to do, this is a key, here’s this backfield set, here’s this guy’s stance.’ Whatever it was. He would talk to the team, prepare the team from a scouting standpoint and then going to practice. Of course, that gave me a great opportunity to a see a number of great coaches that were at the Naval Academy, head coaches like Wayne Harden and assistant coaches like Coach Rosano, Coach Corso, Ernie George, just go right down the line. There were dozens of them, Joe Mark, Joe Bugel, all the positions.

“Each guy had a different style, each guy had a different way of doing things. And I kind of learned that you could be a good coach doing it this way, doing it that way, fit in your style. But as it goes back to my day, hard work, preparation. To go to a game and watch him scout a game was it was an unforgettable experience really.”

But the backbone of Belichick’s coaching is preparation. That’s something he learned from his father, who was regarded as one of the most advanced scouts in all of football for three decades.

“There would be four or five other scouts in the press box scouting the game besides him,” Belichick said. “He’d be there with his book and scout it and he would write down the substitutions, the play and would be ready to go for the next play. Then, when it was all over, those plays, back in the days when it took two days for the film to come in, those plays were the game. I mean you had to wait two days before you could see the play on film.

“Meanwhile, there would be other guys scouting and they would be like, ‘What happened on that play? Who caught that?’ He was just so good at it so when the game would be over and we’d be driving home, we’d talk about the game. He saw every play, the blocking scheme, the defense, the pattern that they ran, how it was covered, what coverage they were in, who blitzed. He had a great vision so he taught me and tried to explain those keys to me, how he watched the guard triangle, fullback, get a run-pass key, take his eyes move down to the passing game if the quarterback was off the line of scrimmage. If it was a running game, then go to the line, see the puller, see the blocking pattern but before that, he already knew that he already knew the down-and-distance, the field position, the formation and the front, so that was already locked in and he would just put it together. So, it was really impressive.
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Read More: Bill Belichick, Navy, New England Patriots, nfl
Mike Petraglia reports on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Day 2 of Patriots at Super Bowl LI at 4:09 pm ET
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HOUSTON — The Patriots continued their media availability Tuesday at the JW Marriott with Bill Belichick speaking on a number of different topics including his father. Mike Petraglia reports from Houston.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, nfl
Tom Brady gets a protective necklace from Gisele for Super Bowl LI, and the best questions asked on media night at 9:28 am ET
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Jan 30, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during Super Bowl LI Opening Night at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady during Super Bowl LI Opening Night at Minute Maid Park. (Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports)

HOUSTON — No one cares more about the well-being of Tom Brady than his wife.

And to help in that regard, the Patriots quarterback Monday revealed at media night that Gisele gave her No. 1 man a silver necklace this week to wear while he prepares for Super Bowl LI, and presumably in the game itself.

Brady revealed the necklace when asked he thoughts on the adage, “behind every great man is a great woman.”

“That’s a wonderful question. I’ve just been very blessed to find a wonderful woman, a wonderful partner,” Brady said. “You’re right about that. She does everything. She gave me this right before I came down for protection so I’m wearing it. She’d be very happy I’m wearing it because she doesn’t like anybody hitting me so she always says, ‘throw the ball really fast.. really fast’ so that’s what I try to do.”

As for his kids and their love of football and sports?

“Well, I think they probably get most of it from their friends, not necessarily [from] dad because when they’re with me they don’t want to talk too much football other than to say, ‘Dad, the Atlanta Falcons are really good,” Brady said. “They’re a really good team. I don’t know if you can beat them.’ I think mostly hearing from their friends at school.”
“LeBron. Tight end. Split him out, throw it up and he’d come out with a lot of them.”

Brady did let it be known that he’s the reason his son Jack had a monster year in fantasy football, giving him the advice to draft Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman.

“I was part of the reason he picked Devonta Freeman early in the season. He said, ‘Dad, you’re going to have to help me pick my team.’ I was lining it up, and I’ve always been a fan of his. I’ve watched, actually, a lot of Atlanta’s offense over the last few years just watching different concepts and how they move the ball,” Brady said. “He’s someone that just stands right out. Between the receivers and their passing game and then what they do with their (running) backs, it’s incredible. Devonta and Tevin Coleman are both great players. They make a lot of big, explosive plays.”

Brady talked a lot about family on Monday, including his great relationship with father, Tom Sr., which caused him to tear up as he battled to stay composed.

Here are some of the best of the rest from Brady on Monday:

Who would you take if you had one game to win, you or Joe Montana? “Joe.”

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Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Devonta Freeman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Kimmel Live
Tom Brady refuses to address Donald Trump friendship: ‘I’m not talking politics at all’ at 12:16 am ET
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Tom Brady turned aside all questions on his relationship with President Donald Trump Monday night in Houston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

HOUSTON — Tom Brady received a reprieve from old teammate Willie McGinest, who opened the hour-long media session with a one-on-one interview with the Patriots quarterback for NFL Network.

McGinest joked that he was going to ask about Donald Trump and the quarterback’s friendship with the President.

“Not you Willie,” Brady said with a smile “You’re not the one who’s supposed to ask that.”

Brady was not as lucky once the rest of the hungry reporters began firing off their questions. At least four times Brady was asked about his support of Trump and each time he responded that his focus was on Sunday’s Super Bowl and that he is “just a positive person” and he just “wants the best for everybody.”

“I’m not talking politics at all,” Brady said to the final Trump question of the night.

Why?

“Why? Because I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game and my teammates and the reasons why we’re here,” Brady answered.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point and I just want to focus on positive nature of two great teams competing on the highest level. We’ve worked really hard and don’t want anything to take away from that.”

Read More: Atlanta Falcons, Donald Trump, New England Patriots, nfl

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