BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a concussion in the Patriots' 24-20 AFC championship win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 21, was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. It was the Patriots' first practice this week as they prepare for Super Bowl LII on Sunday in Minneapolis against the Eagles.
Gronkowski, who practiced in pads, is still working his way through concussion protocol. He wasn't available in the post-practice media availability. (The Eagles spoke to the media before their practice).
In addition, other limited participants were defensive linemen Deatrich Wise (concussion) and Malcom Brown (foot).
Quarterback Tom Brady, who wore black tape on his injured right hand, practiced in full.
Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan didn't practice on Wednesday due to illness. It was also the Eagles' first practice this week.
According to the pool report, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said the team doesn't believe Jernigan has the flu, but rather "a 24-hour deal."
Three other Eagles, Fletcher Cox (calf), running back Jay Ajayi (ankle) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbee (hamstring) all were full participants in practice.
Pederson said his team won't be in pads all week.
"We're in the last week of the season," said Pederson, who turned 50 on Wednesday. "If they don't know how to hit by now, you know?"
Mixed emotions for Sproles
Darren Sproles is at the Super Bowl with mixed emotions. The Eagles running back was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 25 after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and breaking his right forearm during a second quarter run in the third game of the season a 27-24 win over the visiting New York Giants.
A 13-year veteran, the 34-year-old Sproles talked about what it is like not being able to be on the field in the biggest game of the year.
"I want to be in there, I want to be — but it is also a chance to win a ring," Sproles said during Super Bowl media night on Monday. "That is what is keeping my spirits high."
Still, he admitted that it is killing him not being able to help the team.
"I find different ways where I can help the guys out," he said. "But, hey, it's tough."
Sproles, who turns 35 in June, earned consecutive Pro Bowl berths as a return man in his first three seasons with the Eagles.
When asked if he plans a comeback, he said, "Maybe, I haven't made up my mind. Rehab is going good, everything is going good."
Johnson having fun
Not all of the players are enthusiastic about their media duties this week at the Super Bowl, but Eagles Pro Bowl offensive tackle Lane Johnson isn't in that group.
While this has been a week of clichéd answers, especially from the New England side, Johnson has been outgoing, interesting, and fun.
"A lot of people look at it as stressful situation — as long as I am not suspended, I am not stressed," said Johnson, who was suspended four games in 2014 and 10 in 2016 for PED violations. "I feel fine, I feel this should be fun and not something you should dread the whole week … "
So Johnson has had a simple goal that he has adhered to.
"I am going to enjoy the process along the way," he said.
He's one of us
Patriots fullback James Develin is actually James Rittenhouse Develin, from Boyertown, Pa. Develin said Tuesday that David Rittenhouse, for whom Rittenhouse Square was named in 1825, was "my uncle, a couple of lineages back. That was my grandmother's maiden name."
Develin said he fielded a number of ticket requests.
"Being from Philly, I had a bunch of people kind of reach out. … We'll have a pretty good contingent, because my wife's family is Eagles season ticketholders," he said.