The New England Patriots held their first practice leading into Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. Special teams ace and DB Nate Ebner was not present for the second straight day. Ebner suffered a concussion in the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was the lone player not available.
LB Dont’a Hightower donned a red non-contact jersey as he gets over a shoulder injury. Hightower also featured on the injury report with a knee injury in weeks 15 and 16 of the regular season; while the knee injury isn’t hindering his ability to practice, it’s clear that Hightower is banged up and should avoid all unnecessary contact.
Did Not Practice
Patriots: S Nate Ebner (concussion); K Stephen Gostkowski (illness)
Falcons: WR Julio Jones (toe), C Alex Mack (fibula)
Gostkowski is a new addition to the list, but should be a concern since there is plenty of time prior to the game. He is away from practice simply to avoid getting everyone else sick. Ebner should return to practice next week.
The Falcons are missing their second and third most important players, but they are expected to be available next week.
Patriots: WR Danny Amendola (ankle), TE Martellus Bennett (knee), RB Brandon Bolden (knee), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), WR Chris Hogan (thigh), WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee), DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)
The Patriots limited at practice are the same as those projected to be limited on Wednesday. Gostkowski remains the only change.
Falcons DE Dwight Freeney returned to practice in full capacity after missing on Wednesday due to a non-injury related reason.