FOXBOROUGH — Antonio Brown made his Patriots practice debut Wednesday afternoon as the team installed its game plan for Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins in Miami.
Whether Brown returns to his hometown to face the Dolphins still is unknown.
“We’re taking it one day at a time, just like we always do,’’ coach Bill Belichick said when asked during a prepractice press conference.
Brown, wearing a white No. 1 jersey — he’d have to change that number if he’s active on game day — did some stretching and some quick sprints during the window media was allowed to observe the full pads practice.
With “A Star is Born,’’ by Jay-Z blaring, Brown didn’t interact with teammates as he high-stepped his way across the width of the field during one rep and then showed off his well-known quick feet during another rep.
For what it’s worth, Brown was not wearing the Xenith Shadow model helmet he announced he would wear this season after losing two grievances against the NFL in hopes of getting to wear his older helmet, which is now banned.
“It was good just to get to work with him,’’ said fellow receiver Phillip Dorsett. “He’s learning and it’s just great to have him out there.’’
Tom Brady had no comment on the sexual assault and rape allegations against Brown.
“I’m just trying to show up and play football and try to prepare,’’ said the Patriots quarterback. “Miami’s a good team. I am trying to get ready for them. Things that don’t involve me, don’t involve me.’’
As for Brown’s on-field preparations, Brady said he’s got some catching up to do.
“Just like a lot of new players, trying to get up to speed and so forth,’’ said Brady, who said he would not get “into all that” when asked about the reports that he opened his home to Brown. “[He has] a lot to learn. Again, coming in this time of year I would say is challenging. That is just the situation. It happens a lot throughout the NFL. Different players change teams and so forth. That’s happened over the years. Just trying to do the best we can do.’’
Brown was the only topic of conversation during Belichick’s late-morning meeting with the media, a day after the newly signed receiver was hit with a federal civil lawsuit filed by a former trainer accusing him of rape and sexual assault.
It’s unclear whether the Patriots knew about the possibility of the lawsuit, though Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN that he and his client were “aware of the possibility” it would be filed but declined to get into specifics of his conversations with the club.
“I’m not going to get into that element,’’ said Rosenhaus. “I’m not going to get into my discussions with the Patriots and what may or may not have been discussed. I just want to reiterate [that] people should please keep in mind that Antonio denies these allegations. He will have a full investigation. He will go through the legal process.’’
Belichick made a brief statement on Brown before he was peppered with questions about the lawsuit.
“On Antonio’s situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements, so I’m not going to be expanding on any of those,’’ the coach said. “They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously all the way through the organization. I’m sure there are questions, but I’m not going to be entering into the discussion about that today. So, that’s where we’re at.’’
When asked if he knew about the suit, Belichick repeated, “I’m not going to be expanding on the statements that have already been given . . . When we know more, we’ll say more.’’
Belichick was asked 16 questions, all relative to Brown, but deflected all but did say “yes” when asked if the receiver was expected to be at practice.
Patriots captain Devin McCourty said the team’s main focus is on getting ready for the Dolphins but that doesn’t mean they aren’t cognizant of what Brown is dealing with.
“The locker room as a whole has a job to try and prepare and play this game,’’ he said. “[The allegations] are serious. I don’t think anyone is sitting in here and doesn’t realize how serious that situation is and everything. But I think from a football standpoint, we’ve got to be prepared to play against the Dolphins on Sunday because that’s what our job calls on us to do. I’m sure just like you, everyone in here has opinions and all of that. But at the end of the day when we come in here our job is to prepare and play.’’
McCourty is always among the most supportive of teammates but acknowledged because of the short time Brown’s been in town, this has been a unique situation.
“I think for the most part you always try to judge people on what you get from them and you try to get to know someone,’’ he said. “I think this is a little different, you know, he’s going through a personal situation and, personally, none of us even know him yet. We’re just starting to get to know guys, that’s what you kind of do, you just try to get to know any new guys that come in here. I think that’s all part of getting new teammates is trying to get to know them yourself and not judging them off what happened with other teams but trying to get to know guys.’’
Another Patriots captain and locker room leader, Matthew Slater, said there’s one thing a new player should know about playing in New England.
“No one is bigger than the team,’’ he said. “We’re all here to try and support one another, to try and build one another up and accomplish something that’s really bigger than ourselves. That’s what a team is about. No one individual is bigger than the team. It’s about working together as a family toward a common goal. Checking your ego at the door, sometimes putting personal goals aside to ensure the success of the team.’’