By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- Cornerback Devin McCourty was present at Patriots practice for the second straight day on Friday at Gillette Stadium, as the Pats prepare for Sunday night's game against the Green Bay Packers.
McCourty injured his rib in the first half of Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears, and at halftime, the Patriots led 33-0.
His status for Sunday's game isn't yet officially known, but he did term it as "nagging" prior to practicing on Friday.
"I'm just happy that I can practice," said McCourty, when asked if he was concerned about long-term effects of his rib injury. "I'm going out there and playing, so I think that's always a good sign."
McCourty acknowledged on Friday that he did briefly return to Sunday's game after suffering the injury, and that sitting out for the second half was the "coach's decision."
"I always want to play each Sunday," said McCourty. "You don't get many opportunities to go out there and play, so, anytime we do, I want to be out there . . . Whatever the docs and the trainers decide, and what coach says, that's what I'll go with."
Tight end Aaron Hernandez was among four missing Patriots at Friday's practice. The other three players not present were defensive linemen Mike Wright, Myron Pryor, and Ron Brace.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.
Tom Brady’s been throwing during his forced vacation. Sometimes it’s been Wes Welker. More often it’s been with local college-level players in undisclosed locations. But none of it has him feeling like he’ll be ready to stroll out next week when his suspension ends and pick up where he left off when he left the Patriots facility on September 3.
“I don’t think you can [flourish without practice],” Brady said during his weekly Monday Night Football interview on Westwood One with Jim Gray. “I do admire some guys, like [Patriots receiver]Danny Amendola. He didn’t practice at all in training camp and he goes out there and the first week of the year [and] has a great game. The second week of the year, he has two touchdown catches. I’ve played with a lot of teammates who have been off for extended periods of time and it looks like they’re flipping the switch, but I think for me, that’s not the way I really prepare. I like to take every rep in practice. I like to practice every day.
“I’ve been able to be very healthy over the course of my career, and I think that has really helped me, and I’m going to need to find that rhythm back. It’s going to take some work and some time. Like I said before, that’s some uncharted territory, too.”
Brady said that merely watching games isn’t much help at all.
“I don’t think there is any benefit to watching the team play these games from a football standpoint, because it takes time to get the timing and the practice reps,” he said. “I’m trying to do the best I can to stay in shape and to keep the timing, and to really stay football ready. I’m hoping our team has a great week of preparation and can get to 4-0, and then I’ll have an opportunity to be back next Monday, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be ready to go for that week.
“It’s a big week for me, and it’s a big week for our team. Every week is a big week in the NFL, but not having been out there for four weeks, there is a lot of makeup time I’m going to need and the chance to be on the field with my teammates to see what kind of rhythm I can find in a short week of practice.”
NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."
The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.
The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.
"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."
Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.