When it comes to Super Bowl week, practices are closed to the media, with the exception of one pool reporter at each team’s practice. That pool reporter—Peter King of TheMMQB.com for the Seahawks and Jarrett Bell of the USA today for the Broncos—then files a report that is distributed to the rest of us. So here’s what King and Bell saw. Or at least what the saw and are allowed to write about.
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014
Seattle Seahawks Practice Pool Report
By Peter King
Pro Football Writers of America
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—In their first full practice of Super Bowl week, the NFC champion Seahawks worked at a mostly breakneck pace for 90 minutes on the artificial turf inside the New York Giants’ indoor facility and opened five doors around the building attempting to simulate the temperatures they’re likely to feel Sunday. The temperature outside midway through practice: 22 degrees. Inside: 36, a few degrees off the projected temperature at kickoff for Super Bowl XLVII Sunday night.
Seattle had only one player of 61 on the regular roster and practice squad who did not work during the unpadded practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center: running back Marshawn Lynch (knee). But that’s not unusual, coach Pete Carroll said after practice. “Everybody’s fine,” Carroll said. “This is the day we rest Marshawn. Wednesday is always a rest day for him. We’ve been doing that for years, and it’s always worked out great. We’re in great shape. We’re just as fortunate as can be to be in this kind of shape this late in the year.”
Lynch was in good spirits throughout the practice, at one point acting as a half-speed cornerback as Russell Wilson put the offensive first unit through its paces. Lynch spent a couple of minutes talking to club owner Paul Allen and GM John Schneider, who watched practice together from the sidelines. The other three players who had been questions marks after the NFC title game 10 days ago all practiced without limitation on Wednesday. Wide receivers Doug Baldwin (hip) and Percy Harvin (concussion) both ran freely, and Baldwin cut especially well on his pass routes. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (ankle) worked without a limp and ran well.
Wednesdays at Seahawk practices are called “Competition Wednesday.” Unlike many teams, who run first units against the scout team predominantly during a practice week, Carroll likes to use part of Wednesday practices working the best against the best. That’s what he did on this day, keeping practice the same for the Super Bowl as it was in week three. Practice was fast and competitive. Wilson threw a red-zone touchdown pass early in such a competitive period; later, cornerback Richard Sherman had an athletic interception. Jousting was constant between receivers and the defensive backs. As usual, Seattle practiced with loud music, a blend of James Brown soul and Notorious B.I.G. hip-hop, for the entire practice.
Carroll said he was happy with the indoor field and the footing his players were able to get.
“The turf out there is somewhat frozen, and the turf in here is good,” Carroll said, explaining why he chose to work inside for the late-afternoon practice. “And if we could get the temperature anywhere near what it will be Sunday—it could be anywhere from the low twenties to the mid-thirties—that’s what we wanted. And it’s supposed to be about 36 in here, maybe a little lower right now. It’s close to what we’ll have Sunday.”
He said he anticipates practicing outside in the next three days “only if we need to. But I thought today we got the conditions just right.
“We had great tempo,” Carroll said. “The attention to detail was there … It was great work. You could tell how we carried it through all the way till the end of the practice. I was happy with what we did.”
The Seahawks made the nine-mile trip from their hotel in nearby Jersey City late Wednesday morning to the complex where Super Bowl XLVIII will be played Sunday night. The team spent the entire afternoon at the Giants’ Quest Diagnostics Training Center, and had offensive and defensive and special-teams meetings, a walk-through practice, lunch and then the regular practice before busing back to Jersey City shortly after 6 p.m.
Seattle will resume practice Thursday here with another closed 90-minute session scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.
King also added via Twitter:
E. RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Nine times I’ve been a SB pool reporter. Today’s the fastest practice I’ve covered at a SB. Carroll loved hearing that.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) January 29, 2014
Denver Broncos Practice Pool Report
By Jarrett Bell
Pro Football Writers of America
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – With a stiff wind and chilly temperatures providing a fitting backdrop, the Denver Broncos put on the pads Wednesday with a mission to snap back into a normal practice routine as they progress toward Super Bowl XLVIII.
No sweat. Barely.
The Broncos braved the cold for their first full practice of Super Bowl week – going for one hour and forty minutes after a 30-minute walkthrough session – on the synthetic turf outdoor field at the New York Jets training facility.
By the end of practice, the temperature dipped to 21 degrees, with 21 mile-an-hour winds and a wind-chill factor of 9 degrees.
“It was great,” Broncos coach John Fox said after practice. “We’re pretty much weather-proof. We practice in this stuff all the time. Being in Denver, we’ve played in a few different elements. We practiced numerous times in single digit, played in single digit, played in wind. We’ve practiced in snow many times. We’re pretty much ready for anything.”
Fox has chosen not to use the indoor field at the Jets plush headquarters for practices this week, opting for the synthetic turf outdoor field and the type of natural elements that will greet his team at Met Life Stadium on Super Sunday.
Yet handling the weather was part of a larger picture for the Broncos, who installed their game plan for the matchup against the Seattle Seahawks during three days of practices at home last week.
Fox was pleased with the flow after the travel to East Coast and various commitments connected to playing in a Super Bowl. Wednesday is typically when the focus toward the game increases, given the full-scale practices.
With the game plan installed, Fox said that Monday’s practice was essential for reviewing and tweaking.
“I wanted to see how well they would re-boot, get re-charged and practice what we’ve put in,” Fox said. “They recalled it and it went very well. We had a very good practice.”
The Broncos had a sense of normalcy on a few levels.
Peyton Manning, as usual, was in command and precise with his throws. He seemed unaffected by the elements.
“Very sharp,” Fox said. “What I’ve noticed, he had to get used to weather over the past two years. I think he’s done an unbelievable job, which I think people forget.”
Fox put the teams in pads, which it often does during the Wednesday practices when first- and second-down plays, and the more physical rushing game overall is emphasized. The NFL allows one padded practice per week for Super Bowl teams, so the Broncos – who also practiced in pads last Thursday – are done with their allotment.
As usual, Fox had the Broncos run several live drills while the eight speakers positioned on one of the sideline blared with crowd noise, to help with concentration.
But there was a tweak: Fox turned down the volume.
“Normally, it’s about five times louder than that,” Fox said.
The coach – who coached in Super Bowls as head coach with the Carolina Panthers and as defensive coordinator with the New York Giants — didn’t put the speakers on full blast because Super Bowls generally are played without a home-field advantage.
“It’s not an away game,” Fox said. “The ones I’ve been to haven’t been too loud. So we just kind of practice with what we think we’re going to get.”
Just one player on the 53-man active roster did not practice: third-year defensive tackle Sione Fua, nursing a calf injury. Kicker Matt Prater, who missed practices last week with an illness, was a full participant. No players were limited in drills.
There were also a few distinguished guests on hand, The Fox Sports broadcast and studio crews, including Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Howie Long, former coach Jimmy Johnson, play-by-play man Joe Buck and host Curt Menefee, were on hand.
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen also watched practice alongside his chief football executive John Elway.
But unlike the players, the distinguished observers didn’t need to brave the elements. They could watch from the comfort of a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed hallway that extends for the entire length of the field.