Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

FOXBORO — There were no changes to the injury report Friday in the second of four Foxboro practices before the team leaves for Glendale on Monday.

The second practice of the week Friday was only a walkthrough inside Dana-Farber Fieldhouse, with the team reporting perfect attendance.

Rookie center Bryan Stork (knee) practiced for the second time since suffering the injury in the divisional round against the Ravens. He didn’t practice all last week prior to the AFC championship.

Other than Stork practicing, the report was the same as it was on Wednesday’s projection, as they had five other players limited and Tom Brady (ankle) a full participant. As required by the NFL, the Patriots projected the game status of everyone on their injury list. All six players who were limited were listed as “questionable” while Tom Brady was listed as “probable.”

For the Seahawks, Marshawn Lynch (not injury related) returned to practice after missing Wednesday and Thursday.

Earl Thomas (shoulder), who also missed Wednesday and Thursday, returned to practice Friday on a limited basis.

Here is Friday’s complete Patriots practice report, along with the projection of their possible availability for Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1:

Limited participation

CB Brandon Browner (knee) QUESTIONABLE
LB Dont’€™a Hightower (shoulder) QUESTIONABLE
DT Chris Jones (elbow) QUESTIONABLE
WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder/toe) QUESTIONABLE
DT Sealver Siliga (foot) QUESTIONABLE
C Bryan Stork (knee) QUESTIONABLE

Full participation

QB Tom Brady (ankle) PROBABLE

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Marshawn Lynch dives into the end zone after a 79-yard TD run against the Cardinals (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Marshawn Lynch dives into the end zone after a 79-yard TD run against the Cardinals (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — As some of the questions finally turned back to football strategy Friday, one of the first subjects addressed to Vince Wilfork is what the Patriots plan to do with Marshawn Lynch.

Wilfork made it perfectly clear that he thinks Lynch is the best running back in the game and the toughest ground game challenge the Patriots defense will face this season.

What comes to mind when Wilfork thinks of Lynch?

“Beast,” Wilfork said in a one-word answer that doubles as the first half of the running back’s “Beastmode” nickname. “I mean, he is an old-school running back that can do everything. There’€™s not one thing he cannot do. He is very, very, very tough. I remember playing him when he was in Buffalo as a rookie, and I went up to him at the end of the game and I said, ‘€˜You have something special. You’€™re a hell of a ball player.’€™ I said, ‘€˜I have to give my hats off to you,’€™ and he kind of smiled and was like, ‘€˜Thank you.’€™ It seems like he’€™s been getting better and better.”

Lynch was drafted by Buffalo in the first round in 2007 out of Cal and promptly ran for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, to go with 15 touchdowns. But after his second season, things started to go south in Buffalo. Following his guilty plea on misdemeanor weapons charges, Lynch met with Commissioner Roger Goodell for a disciplinary hearing. Lynch had been arrested in Culver City, Calif., for having a gun in his backpack in the trunk of a car he was in.

The NFL announced that Lynch would be suspended for the Bills’ first three games for violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Lynch appealed the league’s suspension on May 14 in an attempt to have it reduced or nullified, only to have it upheld by Goodell later on August 3. When interviewed on the topic, Lynch has said that he was not surprised when the suspension was upheld, and that he loves playing too much and will try to keep himself out of situations in which there is a risk of being suspended.

He suffered a sprained ankle in 2010 and was traded in October to Seattle, where’s he’s been in “Beastmode” ever since. He has rushed for over 1,200 yards in each of his last four seasons in Seattle, including 1,306 yards with a career high 13 touchdowns this season. His season was defined by a spectacular 79-yard touchdown run on Dec. 21 against the Cardinals, on the same field he’ll be playing the Patriots on Feb. 1.

“The more and more you play in the game, it seems like he kicks it to another gear, and that’€™s a sign of a great football player,” Wilfork said. “He’€™s hands down the best back in the game because he can hurt you any time he has the ball in his hands. I think it’€™s going to be so important for us to have more than one defender tackling him because he’€™s shown over the years what he [can] do. He’€™ll make some defenses and he’€™ll make some players look stupid on the football field. I don’€™t want that feeling, I’€™ll tell you that. It’€™s going to be a lot of running for us trying to get to him because he demands that. He’€™s just a great back.”

How does Lynch help Wilson?

“Well, I think any best friend of the quarterback is the run game and with the backs they have and with Russell Wilson being able to run the ball at will, it makes their offense so dynamic,” Wilfork said. “It’€™s amazing watching film. They don’€™t do a lot of exotic stuff. Basically, they go out and they do what they do and they make plays and they execute at a high level, and they’€™ve been doing it for a couple years now. Obviously saw last year when they went to the [Super] Bowl and they played well together as a team, not just as an offense. Their special teams [is] good, they have a great defense and the offense is very explosive.

“It’€™s going to be a challenge all around for us. It’€™s not just going to be just defensive line or just the defense. It’€™s going to be all three phases of the ballgame. We have to be able to play well. If we play well, we’€™ll set ourselves up well in the game, but if we don’€™t we’€™ll have problems. That’€™s the last thing we want, especially against a team like this, to have problems in the game where it can get ugly quick. Most of the times when you see teams scoring a lot of points like that, it’€™s big plays after big plays and they’€™re capable of doing that. But at the same time it’€™s amazing to see them hand the ball off and they can go 70 yards at will if you’€™re not playing good football. So, we understand that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

FOXBORO — Roughly an hour after the NFL released its statement of an ongoing investigation of Deflategate, Patriots owner, Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft pledged complete support and

Robert Kraft says his team is taking Deflategate very seriously. (Getty Images)

Robert Kraft says his team is taking Deflategate very seriously. (Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Roughly an hour after the NFL released its statement of an ongoing investigation of Deflategate, Patriots owner, Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft pledged complete support and continued cooperation with a statement of his own.

“On Monday, I received a letter from the league office informing me that they would be conducting an investigation into the air pressure of the game balls. Immediately after receiving the letter, I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’€™s investigators.

“During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’€™s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. I very much support the league’€™s desire to conduct a complete investigation and welcome the appointment of Ted Wells to lead the process.

“Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league’€™s investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

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Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss Deflategate and preview the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

“The Patriots might be the most polarizing team in all of sports,” Schefter said, discussing how the controversy has grown. “People love them and people despise them.”

Added Schefter: “There are going to be some people that are naturally disposed to taking their shots and wanting there to be an extreme form of punishment given to them. … It’s the week before the Super Bowl, if there’s a whiff of controversy, it’s going to take on a life of its own, and this certainly has.”

Schefter is cautious about passing judgment on the Patriots or the league with so little information available so far.

“Let’s see how this all works out here, let’s see what the evidence actually is,” he said. “A lot of people want to jump to conclusions. … The league wants to be very thorough and methodical in its investigation. … They can’t afford any form of embarrassment.”

Schefter said he does not believe that the issue will be resolved any time soon.

“When I spoke to people earlier in the week, there’s not going to be any discipline until after the Super Bowl, if there were any discipline.”

Schefter said he believed Tom Brady‘s claim that the QB was unaware of the issue until Monday morning.

Bill [Belichick] spoke with more conviction than Tom did … I believed what Tom Brady was saying, I really did,” he said.

Added Schefter: “It’s a difficult situation for everybody right now because they want answers as to how any of these footballs that allegedly were deflated got the way they were, and we don’t have that right now. … I don’t want to be naive to think that nothing happened, but it’s possible nothing did. It’s possible that they didn’€™t take the measurements at the right time. There’s so many different explanations.”

When asked how the controversy will affect the PatsSuper Bowl performance, Schefter said: “A lot of this, I think, plays into the Patriots’ hands. … They feel like it’s them against the world.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski isn’t about to get into a trash talking war with Jeremy Lane – or anyone else for that matter – leading up to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale.

For that reason, he took the high road on Friday when asked for reaction to scouting report of Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane that Gronk is “not that good a player.”

“Everyone’€™s entitled to their own opinion,” Gronkowski said Friday. “They’€™ve got a great defense overall. We’€™ve got to be worried about their whole defense. We’€™ve got to be sure we practice hard, prepare hard all week so we’€™re ready to roll.”

Does it tick Gronkowski off? Will it motivate him?

“I just keep doing what I’€™ve got to do.” Gronkowski said. “I’€™ve just got to keep working hard at practice, keep bringing it at practice, keep preparing. Just keep getting ready, because it’€™s not just one player on their defense, there’€™s 11 guys out there at the same time. It’€™s not just 11, they’€™ve got the backups, too. So I’€™ve got to prepare for their whole defense, no doubt about that.

“I’€™ve got much respect for the Seattle Seahawks throughout their whole team. Just got to keep working hard and practicing and getting ready for the game. Bring it out there on the field.”

All of this began Thursday when Lane, who stands six feet tall, was asked by reporters what makes Gronkowski, who is six inches taller and about 80 pounds heavier, so good.

“I actually don’t think he’s that good,” Lane replied. “He’s OK. He does have a big body. But from what I’ve seen on tape, he doesn’t like you putting your hands on him. So if we put our hands on him and shake him up a little bit, he won’t catch that many balls.”

Gronkowski was a unanimous Associated Press All-Pro selection in 2014 after catching 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was asked again toward the end of the seven-minute session with reporters Friday what he really thought of Lane’s comment.

“Thank you,” Gronkowski said, with a big smile.

“I’€™m super excited, no doubt about that,” Gronkowski said. “I can’€™t wait, it’€™s going to be a lot of fun. Definitely playing a great opponent. I’€™m super pumped and excited.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss Deflategate and his team’s reaction to it.

Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck joined Middays with MFB on Friday morning to discuss Deflategate and his team’s reaction to it. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

“For me and my teammates, we’re pretty surprised how big this thing has gotten,” the former Boston College QB said. “For us, they kicked our butts. … So I think for us, that’s all it was. It wasn’t anything about footballs or anything about that. It was about, you know what, we’ve got to reevaluate everything that we know about how to beat this team, because clearly what we’ve tried hasn’t even come close to working.”

Hasselbeck said he learned of the controversy after the game while heading out of town with his team, and the Colts were not very concerned with it.

“I had no idea that by Monday it would be the story that it was,” Hasselbeck said. “For me it’s not even that big of a competitive advantage, if true.”

A former Patriots ball boy (when his father played for the team), Hasselbeck said the Colts players had “no reaction” when hearing the news.

“I think we were just deflated and probably just a little embarrassed about how uncompetitive the game was. It just wasn’t even a competitive game,” he said. adding: “For us as players, even with the knowledge, even with it coming across our Twitter timeline, was not a big deal. It wasn’t something even most guys understood. No one cares. Even now, I would say, if you polled the guys on our defense or the guys up front, no one cares. They want it to go away probably as much as the Patriots do. They just want a chance to redo the game next year, hopefully if we’re lucky enough to get back to the playoffs and play them again.”

As for people suggesting that Tom Brady should be suspended for the Super Bowl, Hasselbeck dismissed that thought.

“Even if true, it’s not that much of a competitive advantage,” he said. “To me, it’s not that big of a deal. I could see maybe if someone gets caught lying and someone gets mad and says, ‘Hey, you should have lied to us. Now we’re mad.’ But to me the whole deflate football thing is not that big of a deal, whatever the PSI is.

“And I think I could tell, I think I could tell easily with my eyes closed, with the ball in my hand. But even then, I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

Hasselbeck guessed that the issue might have been made larger because of the magnitude of an AFC championship game.

“This is not like a normal game,” he said, adding: “Maybe no one would notice on a normal game, but everyone’s going to notice on this game.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Nik Beimler

FOXBORO — With all the controversy surrounding the Patriots, Julian Edelman stood at his locker with dozens of media members surrounding him and multiple TV cameras all wanting to ask questions about Deflategate.