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Belichick: No ‘setbacks’ for Rob Gronkowski

Bill Belichick spoke this morning adjacent to the Vince Lombardi trophy that will be awarded after Sunday’s game.

David J. Phillip/AP

Bill Belichick spoke this morning adjacent to the Vince Lombardi trophy that will be awarded after Sunday’s game.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Belichick met with reporters for the last time before Sunday’s Super Bowl this morning, and discussed tight end Rob Gronkowski practicing for the first time since his injury in the AFC Championship. He also made a case for former Patriots coach Bill Parcells’s inclusion in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gronkowski returned to the field yesterday and was able to practice in a limited capacity. His availability against the Giants has been one of the key story lines since his injury, but he ditched the protective boot on Tuesday, practiced yesterday, and appeared to be in good shape after the workout.

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“I think he was OK this morning. I don’t think we had any setbacks,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes out there today. He’s coming along, we’ll just have to see where he gets to, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction.”

Parcells is one of 15 finalists for induction into the Hall of Fame, with the voting taking place tomorrow. Belichick spent many years on Parcells’s staff with the Giants, Jets, and Patriots.

“Absolutely. Bill has done a tremendous job in his time in the National Football League,” Belichick said. “Bill has had a great influence on my career and me personally. I can’t imagine he’d be left out of that group.”

“I can’t imagine he’d be left out of that group.”

Bill Belichick, on Bill Parcells’ chances for the Hall of Fame
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Because of Madonna’s musical performance during halftime, there will be a much longer break before the start of the third quarter. A typical halftime lasts 12 minutes; Sunday’s is expected to push 30, so Belichick decided to simulate that at Wednesday’s practice.

“It gets into a whole restarting mentality, it’s not like taking a break and coming out for the second half. It’s like starting a game all over again. It’s almost like a doubleheader in baseball,” Belichick said. “That makes it a little bit different, so we had the players go through that process of restarting.

“I just felt it was beneficial for our team this year to actually go through that. Go out there and warm up, practice, take breaks, shut it down for a half hour, go into the locker room, simulate what a halftime would be in terms of corrections and adjustments, and restarting our bodies both mentally and physically. Just try to go through that process on a timeframe that was more like it’s going to be this week than like it’s been in any other game this season.”

Belichick also said that the team will remain at the downtown hotel that has served as headquarters all week and won’t go to a remote site the night before the game, and that the Patriots will take their official team photo tomorrow. A bench had been set up on the field during Media Day on Tuesday, but the Patriots were without Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer, both of whom were ill.

The interview session ended with a question about how tired Belichick feels as game day nears and if he’s been able to get any sleep.

“I’ve slept like a baby,” he said.

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