Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty, in his weekly interview on the Dennis & Callahan show, suggested that the Giants team that the Patriots will face in Super Bowl XLVI is playing at a higher level than the one that beat New England, 24-20, in Week 9 of the regular season.

FOXBORO -- Over the course of the 2011 season, no Patriots’ skill position has seen more change than running back.



EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin met with the media following practice on Thursday and was asked about the problems presented by Rob Gronkowski. The 6'6, 265-pound tight end caught eight passes for 101 yards and a TD in the regular-season contest between the Patriots and Giants. 

FOXBORO -- The Patriots practice report for Thursday was the same as the "projected" report that was released on Wednesday, with tight end Rob Gronkowski being the only member of the 53-man roster who did not practice. Here's the complete rundown.

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)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Former Boston College All-American and current Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich spoke to the media at his locker after practice Thursday. Herzlich, a cancer survivor, was asked about his journey to Super Bowl XLVI.

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."