Editor’s Note: DenverBroncos.com’s Stuart Zaas is in Indianapolis working for the NFL during Super Bowl week. He will check in from time to time with updates leading up to the game on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time this week, both the Patriots and Giants practiced on Wednesday. New England had practiced in full pads on Monday, but today marked the first practice in Indianapolis for New York.
“We are excited about getting on the football field,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. “It’s been a couple of days now, and guys are starting to chomp at the bit. We’re ready to get back to preparing to win a game on Sunday. A lot of us wish we could play it today, but we’ve got to wait until Sunday. Today will be the next step toward getting ready for the game.”
The Giants installed most of their game plan last week in New Jersey, but will make some small adjustments as the week goes on.
“All the work has been done,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said. “Now it’s just a matter of continuing to run the plays and get more reps at them, and prepare for a few different looks that New England does.”
Heading into their first practice of the week, Manning said the team’s goal is to be just as sharp and focused as they would at home during a typical game week.
“We just want to have a great practice,” he said. “When you get here, you want things to be crisp. Get on the field, run around, have smooth practices and just get ready to play.”
When Giants Linebacker Mark Herzlich was diagnosed with cancer nearly three years ago, many people around him weren’t even considering the possibility that he’d play football again.
Now, here he is in Indianapolis preparing to play in Super Bowl.
“I looked at my dad and said, ‘Dad, we are going to beat this and I’m going to play again,’” Herzlich said of his initial conversation after his diagnosis. “He looked at me and he believed me. He was probably the only one that believed me at the time, but we did it together.”
Herzlich’s inspiring story has been one of the major non-football stories during Super Bowl week, kick-started from a tweet the linebacker sent out as he walked off the Giants’ charter flight upon the team’s arrival on Monday.
“Two years ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in the Super Bowl. Take that cancer,” Herzlich tweeted.
“It was a tweet that I just thought of at the time and said, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool how far I have come,’” he said regarding the tweet. “It was really kind of something i just felt. I was walking off the plane and said, ‘This is awesome.’ I’ve come so far and our team has really come so far.”
Herzlich has made it a goal of his to help inspire others through his story, and was happy to see the overwhelming positive response to his message.
“I’m very pleased and very happy that so many people got to see it, because that is a part of what my goal and mission is. This week is all about football and all about playing, but there are people out there who are going through cancer right now who see that and say, ‘Hey, if he is doing it, I can do it.’”
PATRIOTS GETTING BACK TO BUSINESS
New England arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday and used Monday to get in a padded practice. On Wednesday, they returned to the practice field, as they would during a typical week.
“We are looking forward to getting back out on the field today and cleaning some things up from Monday,” Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said before today’s practice. “Moving the week along, this will be a regular Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for us from here on out. Hopefully we can take those days of preparation and be ready to go.”
Despite all the off-the-field elements that come with Super Bowl Week, the Patriots are doing their best to keep the focus on Sunday’s game.
“You have to save your energy and excitement for after the game,” safety Patrick Chung said. “We’re on a business trip. The first couple of days you have fun, go out and do what you need to do. When business time comes around it’s time to go. (Now) it’s back to business.”
The NFL released the officiating crew for Sunday’s game with referee John Parry leading the seven-man crew. This game will mark the 12th-year official’s 10th playoff game and his second Super Bowl. It will be his first as a referee after he served as the side judge for Super Bowl XLI.
The rest of the crew consists of Carl Paganelli (umpire), Tom Stabile (head linesman), Gary Arthur (line judge), Gary Cavaletto (field judge), Laird Hayes (side judge) and Tony Steratore (back judge). Larry Nemmers will be the replay assistant for the game and Lou Nazzaro will work as the video operator. As a group, the crew has 94 years of NFL officiating experience and 69 playoff game assignments.
The Super Bowl crew is chosen using the league’s officiating evaluation system with the highest-rated eligible officials at each position earning the right to work in the Super Bowl. Officials must have at least five years of NFL experience and at least one previous playoff assignment to be eligible to work the Super Bowl.
Tags: Super Bowl XLVI