Pats enjoy final day before Super Bowl

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Pats enjoy final day before Super Bowl

Pro Football Writers of America

INDIANAPOLIS Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were the last Patriots to walk off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday afternoon after a 90-minute outing with friends and family that included official team Super Bowl photos.

From just past noon until 1:30 p.m., Patriots players, coaches and staff mingled with family and posed for picture after picture as the clock ticked down to Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants.

Brady and Belichick will be trying Sunday to win their fourth Super Bowl in five appearances.

Leaving their team hotel on the campus of IUPUI at 11:45 a.m., the Patriots traveled through a raw drizzle in a 10-bus caravan.

Asked how many friends and family made the trip to Lucas Oil, Patriots Vice President of Media Relations Stacey James smiled and said, All of them.

Given the light atmosphere, it was no surprise to see a relaxed, happy group of players.

It really is (good to see the players enjoy the day), said Belichick. These guys have worked hard, theyve earned this trip. We know were here for a job but its also a fun thing to be part of this game so its fun to be seeing them enjoying it. This is what we all work for. To be here. You want to be here, you want to enjoy it, theres a job to do but you want to be able to enjoy the trip.

All official team photos were done by 12:30 p.m.

Seventy Patriots players including all practice squad players and those whod landed on injured reserve during the year were in the final team photo taken before position group photos were taken.

Julian Edelman, who played 25 snaps on offense and 25 on defense in the AFC Championship Game, posed with both the wide receivers and defensive backs.

Belichick, wearing tan khakis and a navy blue hooded sweatshirt with three-quarter length sleeves and a Super Bowl XLVI logo on the right sleeve, knelt in the front row of a photo taken of the Patriots coaches.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski showed no trace of a limp for the 75 minutes he was on the field posing first for team photos and then with assorted waves of teammates family members. Gronkowski, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, walked briskly from the field and up the tunnel headed for the buses outside. He was listed as questionable on Fridays injury report.

I think hes doing better, Belichick said before the team went on the field to begin the session. I think hes doing a little better each day. Well just have to see where things (are) and get through tomorrow.

The Patriots will spend Saturday night at their team hotel on the campus of IUPUI on the edge of downtown Indianapolis. Belichick said there were no stragglers that missed the teams Friday night curfew.

After the stadium session, the team returned to its hotel. The Patriots will have a team meeting in-between lunch and dinner. There will be a curfew Saturday night as well. The time was undisclosed.

Belichick said his teams have often treated Super Bowl Saturdays like this when theres been a bye week between the Conference Championship and the Super Bowl. The exception was before Super Bowl 36 when there was no bye week before the Patriots played and beat the St. Louis Rams. Saturday was the 10-year anniversary of that shocking, 20-17 upset of the Rams.

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

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What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

FOXBORO -- Ever wonder what might've been if Bill Belichick had remained the coach of the Browns, and later the Ravens, after they moved from Cleveland? He says he doesn't.

"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, no," Belichick told Baltimore reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "I try to think ahead and make the best of the situation that I’m in, which is what I tried to do when I was in Cleveland. I took a team that wasn’t very good in 1991, prior to free agency and all of that, had a real good team in 1994. The team moved in 1995."

The decision to move the team helped undo the Browns season in 1995, and Belichick was later fired. There's little denying, though, that he left the pieces of a competitive roster behind. And he helped stock the Ravens' cupboard with valuable assets.

Five years after Belichick's tenure in Cleveland had expired, the franchise won a Super Bowl with linebacker Ray Lewis -- drafted with a pick Belichick had acquired -- as its foundational piece. 

"We made a trade that provided two first-round picks that Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with," Belichick continued. "Ozzie and Ray Lewis were two of the cornerstones of that eventual championship team.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability, I had a lot of confidence in the coaching staff and the players that we had at that time – 1995 wasn’t obviously a great year for us. I don’t think we need to talk about that. We all know what happened. But yeah, I think we would have been competitive if I had been the head coach there. I think we would have been competitive. We had a good team, we had a good staff, and we had a lot of good players.

"Ozzie did a good job with that team and made it better, and they won a championship five years later [with] some of the same players that we started with. But you know, it wasn’t my choice, Ted [Marchibroda] came in there and was going to transition that for what they needed at that point in time. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, no."

Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

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Bennett not practicing, Foster spends some time with receivers

FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett could use a rest, and the Patriots had him sit out for the start of Wednesday's practice.

The 6-foot-7 tight end is dealing with ankle and shoulder issues that have limited him in practice in recent weeks, and he missed an appearance at a preschool on Tuesday with what a representative called an illness. During Sunday's game against the Rams, Bennett's physical ailments clearly limited him as he had difficulty both as a blocker and as a receiver. 

The Patriots also went without safety Jordan Richards, receiver Danny Amendola and special teams captain Matthew Slater at the start of practice. Richards suffered a knee injury against the Jets in Week 12 and missed practice time last week. Amendola endured an ankle injury against the Rams and left the game iin the third quarter. Slater is dealing with a foot injury that has kept him out of the last two games. 

Patriots corner Eric Rowe was present for the start of Wednesday's practice, but he was not spotted with other corners after a couple of drills. Rowe injured his hamstring late in the third quarter against the Rams and did not return. 

Patriots running back DJ Foster was spotted with receivers near the end of the team's media-availability period Wednesday after working out with running backs to start the session. Foster played receiver for a year in college after beginning his collegiate career as a running back. If the Patriots want depth at wideout with Amendola injured, Foster could be an option.