ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The projected high temperature for Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., is 29 degrees – a low of 16 degrees – and winds up to 20 miles per hour.
The Broncos got a taste of that wintry weather during practice Thursday at Dove Valley, as temperatures topped out at 27 degrees and a light snow fell on top of the one-to-two inches that had accumulated over night.
Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio called the weather "fortunate" as the team prepares for a trip to the north east.
"(It was) a real blessing for us to be able to work today in the elements," Del Rio said. "Yesterday was about 65 or whatever it was, very warm. Today it was nice because that's what we're going to face not only this week but as we finish the year."
Del Rio said that the conditions were "pretty good" and the team was able to do all of the things that they would normally do in a Thursday practice, as the Broncos' turf crew cleared the fields for practice earlier in the morning.
Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase agreed that the decision to practice outside in the elements will be beneficial for the team going forward — particularly this weekend.
"I was glad it was cold just because we know what to expect on Sunday," he said. "For us to have to go through our normal routine, get loosened up, get out there and get the blood flowing in that kind of weather, it's really helpful for us."
Wide receiver Wes Welker – who, if healthy, will be playing in New England as a visitor for the first time since leaving the Patriots – said it's good to get a feel for the cold that will likely be present at Gillette Stadium.
"It's great to have this type of weather and get you ready for what you're going to see come game time," he said.
Fellow wide receiver Eric Decker likened the temperature Thursday to his home state of Minnesota and said that the cold isn't something he gets used to – he has just learned to embrace it.
Decker said cold-weather practices give players the opportunity to figure out what kind of cold-weather gear they are comfortable in, so they will know how to prepare on game day. Comfort, he said, goes a long way towards boosting confidence on the field.
For some players, the cold is a less of a factor than it is for others. Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said he'll put his "grizzly bear on" and the weather won't be an issue.
Decker went on to say that the cold weather doesn't necessarily make catching the ball any more difficult, it just requires more of that mental toughness that Vickerson was referring to.
"You just have to keep your hands warm and there's a lot of new technology that allows that," Decker said. "I think the biggest thing in the cold weather might be the wind factor. It might be a little bit more windy, the East coast is always windy and that's something you have to be prepared for and have some mental toughness. Football is football and both teams have to deal with it."