Sports

Patriots girding for heat in Miami

FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick was bundled up in a heavy jacket before Friday’s practice, but the team was going to spend its final on-field preparation day for Sunday’s game at Miami inside the heated bubble.

The Patriots were outside for practices on Wednesday and Thursday, with the temperatures in the low to mid 30s. Sunday’s forecast in Miami is for a high of 78 with a 30 percent chance of rain. Does it help, then, to get out of the cold and practice in a hotter environment, if that’s what you’ll encounter on Sunday?

“I think it helps when you have a good team and you play well. That helps,” Belichick said. “We’ve been out on the grass for a couple days, today is a good concentration day.”

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They’ll face a Dolphins team on Sunday trying to stave off elimination in the AFC East race. A Patriots victory gives them their fourth straight division title.

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The Dolphins feature a rookie quarterback (Ryan Tannehill) and dangerous skill players at running back (Reggie Bush) and receiver (Davone Bess). But Belichick was asked about Miami’s defense, and any similarities he sees.

“I think their defensive style is similar to what the Bengals did,” he said. “Quite a bit of secondary pressure, corners, safeties. They keep it moving. It’s a lot to get ready for.”

Guard Logan Mankins, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and defensive end Chandler Jones were not spotted at Friday’s practice.

Assuming Mankins (ankle/calf) and Jones (ankle) don’t practice, it means they will have missed all week, potentially leaving them out for Sunday’s game with the Dolphins. Gronkowski, who broke his forearm Nov. 18, isn’t expected back for a few more weeks, at the earliest.

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Offensive lineman Markus Zusevics returned after missing Wednesday and Thursday with an illness.