INDIANAPOLIS — Tight end Rob Gronkowski missed the Patriots' first practice of the week in Indianapolis, according to New England head coach Bill Belichick.
Gronkowski hasn't participated in any of the team's three practices since injuring his left ankle during the AFC Championship, and he's been wearing a walking boot to protect the injury. The media was not permitted to attend Monday's session.
However, Belichick set the tone for the week by putting the team through its second fully-padded practice in the last four days. He also enforced the message that it should have been viewed as a Wednesday, when the real work week starts for NFL teams, and that's another sign that Belichick wanted the players to treat the session with intensity.
"For football players, it's kind of like, as soon as you say it's a Wednesday, we don't remember the days of the week," cornerback Devin McCourty said. "We just know it as far as a football standpoint."
Due to the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement, padded practices have been severely limited this season, but teams are allowed to conduct one padded session per week in the playoffs. With that, Belichick has been able to send a message to his players this season by putting them through a padded workout.
The Patriots only practiced in full pads nine times during the regular season, leaving five padded sessions on the table. So, when Patriots have used them, it's been taken with a purpose in mind.
Belichick set the tone during the week leading up to the Patriots' divisional round victory against the Broncos by putting them through a fully-padded workout on that Tuesday, the first day of that specific week. The players responded well to it, and the momentum carried through the course of the week. That appears as though it could again be the case this week.
The practice also lasted about a half hour longer than expected, and the Patriots followed it with a media session. After that, they went through a team film session. According to several players, they took it upon themselves last week to stay at Gillette Stadium until about 10 p.m. for film study — which is hours longer than a usual week — and they expect that to remain the plan this week at the team hotel.
The Patriots won't have practice Tuesday, but they'll return to the field Wednesday.
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