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2019 Super Bowl: Dont’a Hightower misses Patriots’ Thursday practice due to illness

A big name popped up on the injury report today.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-Opening Night Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields today for a walkthrough session. “We got a lot out of the walk-through today and were able to run more plays at a slower tempo,” head coach Bill Belichick told pool reporter Jenny Vrentas about the one-hour, 20 minute session. “So that’s the advantage. Practicing [full speed] you get better tempo, you just get fewer plays.”

The session itself was apparently a good one for the team, but participation was not perfect: for the first time since the week leading up to the divisional round, the Patriots did not have all players available as a look at today’s injury report shows. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams had perfect participation for the first time all week.

Did not participate

Patriots: LB Dont’a Hightower (illness)

Rams: none

After being a full participant yesterday, Dont’a Hightower missed today’s session due to an undisclosed illness. “We’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” Belichick said about the 28-year old and his longer-term outlook. Hightower is a core defender for the Patriots and serves as the team’s defensive signal caller, so him missing the session is obviously not ideal. However, the most important thing is to get him ready to go on Sunday and if a walkthrough off helps doing that, so be it.

Limited participation

Patriots: none

Rams: S Blake Countess (foot), K Greg Zuerlein (left foot)

As noted above, the Rams had perfect participation for the first time all week: special teamer Blake Countess, dealing with a foot injury, returned. Meanwhile, kicker Greg Zuerlein remains limited in his workload but is expected to be full-go on Sunday.

Full participation

Patriots: DT Malcom Brown (calf)

Rams: none

“If something happens tomorrow, that will be a different story, but I’d say he looks alright,” said Belichick about defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who returned to full practice participation today. Brown was limited yesterday but it looks as if he will be good to go. His availability at the media session earlier today also was an indicator for that.

The Patriots will be back at practice tomorrow and run a full session as opposed to a walkthrough.