Tom Brady and Patriots get a feel for the cold at Friday’s practice
FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady spent Friday afternoon “just playing with my friends, throwing the football around” as the Patriots wrapped up their on-field preparations for Sunday’s AFC divisional-round game with the Chargers.
It wasn’t the greatest conditions for a game of catch, with temperatures hovering in the mid 20s and a stinging wind sweeping across the Gillette Stadium turf. It felt just about right to Brady and Co., however.
Although both teams will have to deal with the deep freeze Sunday — the forecast calls for a high of 29 and a low of 18 — Brady said having some dress rehearsals in frigid conditions does have its benefits.
“It’s very similar to what we’re going to get on Sunday, so just knowing again, how many layers you’ve got to put on and how you’re going to feel [helps],’’ said Brady. “We didn’t have the nice, warm, heated benches out there like we will on Sunday. It’s cold and that’s just part of this time of year. But it’s good to be playing when it’s cold out. It’s good to be playing this time of year in Foxborough . . . Just to practice in it, we’re prepared for it and hopefully we can use some of the things we’ve learned to our advantage.’’
Brady, it seems, enjoys playing in the cold as much as the Snow Miser. The 19-year veteran is 23-4 in games played in sub-30-degree temperatures. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 1-3 in the same conditions.
Julian Edelman doesn’t expect the guys from Los Angeles to be too affected by the cold.
“If you watch them play football, they don’t look soft at all,’’ said Edelman. “This is a really good football team. They’ve already been on the road, been to the East Coast, and won.’’
Bill Belichick has never put much stock into meteorological matters and he stayed the course Friday.
“They’re a good football team,’’ said the Patriots coach. “We’re playing the Chargers. We’re not playing the weather.’’
Dolphins eye Flores
The Dolphins “have narrowed the focus” of their head coaching search to Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores, according to NFL Media on Friday.
The longtime New England assistant was the first person to interview for the vacancy. Miami’s general manager is Massachusetts native Chris Grier.
Flores also had interviewed with the Browns and Broncos.
Under league rules, the Dolphins cannot strike a deal with Flores until the Patriots’ season is over. Flores appears to be Miami’s choice, according to multiple reports.
Flores, 37, formerly was a linebackers coach at Boston College and with the Patriots.
The Dolphins fired Adam Gase, who went 23-26 in his three seasons.
If Flores departs, it will be the second straight year the Patriots have lost their de facto defensive coordinator. Matt Patricia left last season to become coach of the Lions.
The Patriots could get an unexpected boost on offense and special teams if tight end Stephen Anderson makes his season debut on Sunday.
The third-year veteran had spent the entire regular season on the practice squad but was elevated to the active roster when Jacob Hollister was placed on injured reserve because of a nagging hamstring injury.
Anderson played 28 games for the Texans the last two years — starting the final five games of the 2017 season — and collecting 36 catches for 435 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 230-pounder played tight end receiver at Cal and believes he’s a “hybrid” tight end. Anderson doesn’t believe his “skills have diminished” by not being on the active roster. He’s sharpened his skills by mimicking the tight ends the Patriots will face each week.
“The first person was Eric Ebron when played Indy,’’ he said. “The way they use him, he’s a tight end, but they can use him as a receiver. I think [Chris] Herndon from the Jets, they use him in kind of that tight end/receiver role.’’
Anderson said he also watched tape of Aaron Hernandez to see if he could incorporate some of the former Patriots tight end’s game into his own.
“I always hear about him in practice, so I definitely took a look at him,’’ said Anderson. “There are some things that I try to pull, try to use out there and try to add to my arsenal.’’
Defensive end Deatrich Wise (ankle) was the only player limited at practice. He is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game but it would be stunning if he doesn’t play . . . Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (knees) was removed from the injury report . . . Los Angeles tight end Hunter Henry (knee), who was just activated this week, was a full participant but is questionable to make his season debut . . . Cornerback Jason McCourty (10 seasons), left tackle Trent Brown (4), and defensive linemen Danny Shelton (4) and Ufomba Kamalu (3), and safety Obi Melifonwu (2) are veterans poised to make their playoff debuts . . . The Patriots lead the all-time series with the Chargers, 24-15-2 (playoffs included) . . . Rob Gronkowski is 28 receiving yards shy of 1,000 for his playoff career . . . A 100-yard effort would give Gronkowski five for his playoff career, most in NFL history for a tight end.