By John Boyle
As mentioned yesterday, practices are closed to media this week except for one pool reporter assigned to each team. Here are those reports:
Seattle Seahawks Practice Pool Report
By Jenny Vrentas
Pro Football Writers of America
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Running back Marshawn Lynch was one of 61 Seattle Seahawks — the entire active roster and practice squad — practicing in the indoor fieldhouse of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center Thursday evening. Lynch sat out Wednesday, his usual rest day, but was back on the practice field today in a full capacity, running hard during team drills and even shouting along to the old ’90s rap song, “Sideways.”
“He’s fine. That’s a routine day for us on Wednesday,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after another 90-minute unpadded practice. “That absolutely helps him. We found a good rhythm for him during the course of the last couple years. Resting him on Wednesday really helps him get ready for the ball games.”
Receivers Doug Baldwin (hip) and Percy Harvin (concussion) also had no limitations; Harvin ran quickly and with a spring in his step. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (ankle) was off to the side during part of the warm-up and drills period—appearing to adjust the taping on his foot or his equipment—but he took part in team drills.
“Everybody is fine. No issues at all,” Carroll said. “It’s fantastic to have everybody going, knowing that everybody is healthy. Of course they’re excited about that, too. We’re very fortunate in that sense.”
The NFC Champions conducted their second full practice of Super Bowl XLVIII week inside the fieldhouse at the Giants’ practice facility again (where the Giants’ four Super Bowl banners hang). The Seahawks took the field at 4:30 p.m.—special teams players came out at 4:15 p.m.—and wrapped up by 6 p.m. Asked about practicing indoors again, Carroll quipped, “It’s really dark outside.”
Carroll added, “The turf is really good, hopefully much like it will be at game time, and it was plenty cold enough today.” The outside temperature was 28 degrees, and the Seahawks again opened five doors on the sides of the fieldhouse to let in the cold air.
After “Competition Wednesday” yesterday, this was “Turnover Thursday,” and the Seahawks defense came out on top. Cornerback DeShawn Shead intercepted a pass in 7-on-7 drills for the lone turnover.
“The defense won. They got their turnover today,” Carroll said.
The team portion of practice, after warm-ups and position drills, opened with a handful of 11-on-11 snaps that pitted the first-team offense against the first-team defense in the red zone. This is typical for a Thursday practice, Carroll said. The volume of the music playing in the fieldhouse was jacked up for this period. During the rest of team drills, the first-team offense and defense each worked against the scout team.
The defense was energetic and boisterous, swarming Shead after his interception and jumping around after every play that was broken up. The offense was more serious. When the first-team offense was not on the practice field, quarterback Russell Wilson was often conferencing with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, quarterbacks coach Carl Smith and his receivers—using their hands to diagram plays in the air and on the artificial turf. Wilson threw a long touchdown pass during 11-on-11 drills against the scout team.
“Today, we’re finishing up the game plan,” Carroll said. “Our third-down stuff today was a big deal. But the whole day is really dedicated to the ball; it’s a turnover day for us. So we’re working on that all day long.”
The Seahawks bussed over from their Jersey City hotel at 11:30 a.m. They had meetings, a 45-minute walkthrough in the fieldhouse, lunch and then practice, where the music selection included Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” and Fort Minor’s “Remember the Name.” After dinner, they were headed back to the team hotel.
Several members of the FOX broadcast team—including Troy Aikman, Joe Buck and Pam Oliver—were in attendance at practice. GM John Schneider came in around 4:50 p.m., wearing gray sweats, and he walked off the field after practice laughing and joking with right tackle Breno Giacomini. One position group broke its huddle by chanting, “1, 2, 3, Super Bowl!”
“The guys are really excited about the game,” Carroll said. “They’re practicing with great focus and attention to the details. And so we go to Friday and try to put together a really good day on Friday, finish really sharp, and head into the weekend. We’re ready to go.”
Denver Broncos Practice Pool Report
By Jarrett Bell
Pro Football Writers of America
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Denver Broncos moved their full-scale Thursday afternoon practice indoors today at the New York Jets Atlantic Health Training Center after head coach John Fox determined that practicing again on the frozen synthetic turf field outside – as they did on Monday and Wednesday – might increase risk and wear-and-tear.
“We just came indoors because it was softer,” Fox said after Thursday’s one-hour, 45-minute practice, which was preceded by a 30-minute walk-through.
“So, really, it was more for the players’ legs more than anything. The field got a little hard yesterday.”
Fox emphasized that the shift had nothing to do with the weather, which wasn’t as challenging as it was on Wednesday. It was 26 degrees outside, with a mild wind and wind-chill factor of 18 degrees when Thursday’s practice began, according to Weather.com.
“It was actually way nicer today than it was yesterday,” Fox said.
On Wednesday, the wind-chill was estimated at 9 degrees at the end of practice.
While working inside, Fox had the doors opened to allow a blast of cold air to circulate throughout the facility.
The Broncos are hoping to use the outdoor field for Friday’s practice. By late Thursday afternoon, the outdoor synthetic field was covered by tarp – with blowers underneath heating the playing surface.
“They’re going to heat it up a little bit,” Fox said, “Kind of like they’re doing at MetLife now. We’ll be back out there tomorrow. The issue we found yesterday was with the snow the night before, the field was a little harder.”
With weather looming as a potential X-factor for Sunday’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, Fox is monitoring the field conditions at MetLife Stadium. On Wednesday, kicker Matt Prater and punter Britton Colquitt worked out at the Super Bowl site. Fox said the feedback about the field was positive.
There are no heaters built into the surface at MetLife Stadium.
“They’re doing whatever they can to keep it from freezing,” Fox said.
A few players – including Peyton Manning – still managed to get in some work outdoors on Thursday. During individual drills, Manning and backup quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert hustled outside for a few minutes of drills.
Prater, Colquitt and long snapper Aaron Brewer also conducted some work outside on Thursday, although like the rest of the team the bulk of their work came indoors.
In all, the Broncos had another spirited practice on Thursday without pads – in helmets and shells.
There were no injury setbacks, and after practice Fox presented the exact same injury report as he had the previous day: Of the 53 players on the active roster, the only non-participant was defensive tackle Sione Fua.
“It was a typical Thursday in-season practice,” said Fox. “We had a great mind-set and great energy. We still have more preparation, and we’ll continue with that and go from there.”
Fox visited briefly during practice with team owner Pat Bowlen, who watched the bulk of practice from the sideline.
The Broncos had something to observe during practice, too, if they so desired. Large black-and-white images of the greatest figures in Jets history – including Joe Namath, Curtis Martin and Weeb Ewbank — hang on the far wall.
The biggest image, though, is of the Lombardi Trophy that the Jets won in Super Bowl III.
How fitting, with the Broncos hoping to add to their franchise’s collection on Sunday.
Fox surely noticed the banner of the championship trophy.
All week, he has talked of trying to establish a routine that is as close to normal as possible, given the demands of the Super Bowl and extended period at home.
As was the case for Thursday’s practice, they’ve had to adjust and adapt to some situations. While practicing and having weightlifting sessions at the Jets headquarters, they are having team meetings that the team’s hotel in Jersey City.
And they are even trying to make the most of their travel time. The bus ride to the team’s hotel takes from 30 to 40 minutes from the Jets headquarters.
Enough time to watch practice video on their iPads.
“With the technology today, they’re able to download the practices immediately,” Fox said. “The players and coaches will view the practice on the way to the hotel.”
That must be a quiet bus ride.
Quipped Fox, “Yeah, it is, other than someone saying, ‘What the heck were we doing on this play?’”