EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw were among those held out of practice for the Giants on Thursday.

Nicks injured his shoulder during in NFC championship game victory over the 49ers. Bradshaw has been limited with an injured foot for much of the season. Tom Coughlin said earlier this week that he expects both to play in the Super Bowl.

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Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe checked in with Mut & Merloni Thursday and predicted a Patriots victory in Super Bowl XLVI, although he said it won't come easy.

"I think it's going to be a great football game, first and foremost," he said. "These teams are both playing very, very well. I think the Patriots will win it, but I think it's going to be a close one. If I had to pick a number, I'd say somewhere like 31-27 or 31-24. I think it's going to be one of those games that's going to be heavily in doubt halfway through the fourth quarter.

Former Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison, now an analyst for NBC, checked in with Mut & Merloni Thursday to preview Super Bowl XLVI.

Harrison, who played on the Patriots team that lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, said revenge will be a motivating factor for the Patriots, no matter what they say in public.

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was on hand for Patriots practice on Thursday inside the Dana-Farber Field House as the team began on-field preparation for the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. 

It was the first time this season Brady was present for a bye week practice.

FOXBORO -- The Patriots aren't taking any chances with Rob Gronkowski. Head coach Bill Belichick announced Thursday that the Pro Bowl tight end will be held out of practice with the left ankle injury he suffered in Sunday's AFC championship win over the Ravens. 

"He's not going to practice today," Belichick announced Thursday morning in his meeting with the media. "We'll take it day by day. I’m not going to try to forecast where he'll be 10 days from now."

A series WEEI.com has been running all year long comes to a conclusion this week, as we enlist the services of a pair of scouts -- one from the AFC and another from the NFC -- to help break down the matchups in Super Bowl XLVI.



In response to charges that the Patriots may have manipulated the Gillette Stadium scoreboard at the end of the AFC championship game, Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued a statement to the Ravens' official website:

“We knew what the down and distance were on our last series. The scoreboard was not a factor for us. Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense.”

Even though neither of teams in Super Bowl XLVI did not practice Wednesday afternoon, both the Patriots and Giants released a "projected' injury report, with tight end Rob Gronkowski listed as a DNP because of an ankle injury. Here's New England's complete list:

Did Not Practice
TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle)

Limited Participation
WR Deion Branch (knee)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
S Patrick Chung (knee)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
S James Ihedigbo (shoulder)
DL Kyle Love (ankle)

This is how it works, I guess.



KIRK MINIHANE

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For the second time in five seasons, the Patriots and Giants will meet in the Super Bowl, and instead of just getting one scout to weigh in on the matchup, we enlisted two -- one from the AFC and another from the NFC -- to help break thi