ATLANTA (AP) – The Latest on Super Bowl 53 (all times EST):
The Rams held a one-hour, 33-minute practice at the Falcons’ facility in Flowery Branch.
“It was great,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, “and it was good really for players and coaches. You almost get away from it a couple of days. It’s good just to sharpen yourself up, making sure we’re tightening all the screws on the game plan. I thought the players did a nice job just getting a little bit of a lather. It was really a big emphasis on above the neck, and then tomorrow and Friday will be good to kind of finalize the week.”
The Rams’ routine is a walkthrough on Wednesdays. They got back to work with no helmets – other than those with the coach-to-player communication system – and no hitting while going at half speed.
Since Week 4, the Rams have held lighter practices on Wednesdays.
“Really where I got it from was just learning from our training staff as far as a sports-science approach, just being smart with our players,” McVay said.
“Earlier in the year, we end up practicing on Wednesdays and then depending upon where we are injury-wise or how our team is feeling, for us this year was after Week 4, we ended up tailoring our Wednesdays back. Guys have handled it really well. I think it’s been good from a performance standpoint. We’re able to get a lot of reps, but we don’t get as much physical work as you’d like, but that’s why the Thursdays and the Fridays are so important to us.”
Safety Blake Countess (foot) remained out while kicker Greg Zuerlein (left foot) was limited. Those were the only two players listed on the team’s injury report.
“Greg Zuerlein kicked a little bit, and he’s on track,” McVay said. “And I believe Blake will be good, but we want to be smart with him earlier this week.”
Countess, who was listed as questionable on the team’s status report Friday, did some work with the trainer on the side at the start of practice.
“Feel good, feel really good (injury-wise),” McVay said. “I think Blake will be OK with his foot and same thing with Greg. Really that’s all you can ask for this time of year to be as healthy as we are.”
The Patriots wore helmets and shells for an 88-minute session in Georgia Tech’s indoor facility, their first practice in Atlanta.
There was one addition to the injury report. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was limited with a calf injury, coach Bill Belichick said. Brown was at practice wearing his helmet but spent most of the session on the sideline.
“He did some stuff early in practice today,” Belichick said of Brown. “Everybody else was good to go.”
The starting offense and defense alternated plays for the length of the 80-yard turf field, going 11 on 11 plays against the scout team that was mimicking Rams personnel.
“We are way ahead of where we normally are on Wednesday, but we are trying to keep it as a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday and get into our normal routine, which has worked pretty well for us this year,” Belichick said.
The Patriots held one padded practice in Foxborough, Massachusetts, last week, and opted to work in just upper shells Wednesday.
Belichick seemed pleased with the Patriots’ setup in Atlanta, noting “there is not a lot of travel time” between their hotel and Georgia Tech’s campus. The Patriots practiced indoors all last week while they were still in Foxborough, and will conduct all their work indoors this week as well.
“There are 20-story skyscrapers surrounding the field,” Belichick said. “I don’t think we can have a public practice out there.”
Saints coach Sean Payton says he’s glad he’s part of the committee that discusses proposed NFL rule changes.
Payton said during a news conference in New Orleans about an hour before Commissioner Roger Goodell delivered his state of the league address in Atlanta, that coming up with the topics for the committee will be easy, but finding solutions are the hard part.
Payton also notes that nothing discussed or done in the future can change recent officiating mistakes that likely cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
Payton says he’ll probably never get over missed pass interference and helmet-to-helmet contact penalties committed by Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman late in the Saints’ loss to Los Angeles in the NFC championship game. But Payton says it’s important to get past it, which he began doing by spending time alone on the couch, eating ice cream and watching Netflix.
As Payton spoke, he wore a zip-up sweat shirt over a blue undershirt, the visible part of which resembled a T-shirt which portrays Goodell as a clown with a round red nose.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says his throwing shoulder “is good – better than I thought it would be” after undergoing arthroscopic surgery last week.
In an interview with 680 The Fan in his hometown of Atlanta on Wednesday, Newton said “there was so much going on during the season I was in fear – in fear to see what was actually wrong.”
The Panthers haven’t said when Newton can begin throwing again.
Coach Ron Rivera rested Newton for the final two games of the regular season after the 2015 league MVP struggled to throw passes more than 15 yards downfield.
Panthers owner David Tepper recently said the team is working on a backup plan at quarterback for next season in case Newton continues to have problems with the shoulder.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL would continue to play regular-season games in the United Kingdom, but don’t expect a franchise to move there anytime soon.
Goodell said there are enough passionate fans to support an NFL team, but the travel issues would create competitive problems.
“Can we do this competitively for the team that is based in London and the other 31 clubs? Until we can get comfortable with that, I don’t think we’ll be NFL-ready in London.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sidestepped questions of whether he was comfortable with Colin Kaepernick remaining unsigned in the two years since he kneeled during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
He said clubs are in charge of their own personnel decisions and that “is something we take pride in.”
But he did not comment on questions about whether he was OK with the way the league has responded to what many believe is collusion by teams to not sign Kaepernick. He also did not address how the league’s actions would be viewed in history.
Commissioner Roger Goodell says adding an extra official isn’t the answer to all the league’s issues.
It’s “one more human who will make mistakes like the rest of us,” he said.
Goodell said “I would be comfortable” if, after reviewing the issues, no changes were made to the NFL rules as a result of missed call at the end of the Saints-Rams game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says San Diego is not an option for the Raiders next season, and that the hope is they will stay in the Bay Area.
The team is headed to Las Vegas for 2020, but litigation between the team and the city of Oakland has potentially left the Raiders without a home for next year.
Goodell said Raiders owner Mark Davis is taking the lead on the issue, but offered no specifics as to where the team might play.
Roger Goodell’s message to New Orleans fans: I feel your pain.
But don’t get your hopes up for change.
In speaking about the missed pass-interference call that might have cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl, the commissioner said the competition committee will certainly consider changing the rules to allow recourse for a blatant non-call.
But Goodell said league decision-makers have long been opposed to having flags thrown by a replay official or someone in New York, and changing that dynamic would be a big obstacle to overcome.
“Are there solutions for this?” Goodell said. “That’s what they committee needs to focus on: What are the solutions and what are the unintended consequences?”
The commissioner said he never heeded the call from some Saints of stepping in and reversing the result of the NFC championship game.
“Absolutely not,” Goodell said.
He cited a part of the NFL rulebook that said the commissioner could not use his authority to overturn results based on routine errors and judgment calls.
There had been calls from New Orleans for Goodell to step in and overturn the result based on his power to step in when egregious mistakes have been made.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will keep focusing on opportunities to create a deeper pool of minority coaching candidates.
At his State of the League news conference Wednesday, Goodell lauded the NFL’s Rooney Rule, designed 20 years ago to ensure minorities get interview chances when head-coaching opportunities come available.
An Associated Press analysis of coaching staffs for the 2018 season found only four minorities in the stepping-stone positions of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
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