HOUSTON – Katie Deppen couldn't immediately take a call on Friday. She was busy covering one of the logos on the field at NRG Stadium, site of Super Bowl LI.
This city has been home for Deppen since January 17. It's where she's put in 10-15 hours a day over the past few weeks getting the field ready for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Falcons.
A field assistant for the Tennessee Titans, Deppen is a member of the grounds crew for Super Bowl LI. In addition to work at NRG Stadium, she's also prepped the practice fields where the two teams have been practicing – at the University Houston and Rice University.
The work of the crew is nearly complete.
"It's been a great experience,'' Deppen said. "You are here to work, and that is understandable. But you get to work with people from all over the country, and it's a great learning experience.
"I am honored and thankful that I have been given this opportunity and also to represent the Titans."
Deppen, who is from Virginia Beach, joined the Titans last July. In Nashville, she works daily on the fields at Saint Thomas Sports Park and Nissan Stadium with the Titans, under the direction of head groundskeeper Terry Porch.
Deppen also worked last year's Super Bowl, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. In the past, she's worked on the crews of three international games at Wembley Stadium in London.
The challenge this year, she said, has been somewhat different since Sunday's game at NRG Stadium will be on artificial turf.
Instead of dealing with sod, her primary jobs have focused on painting (the end zones, 50-yard line logos, trophy logos, etc.), and dealing with the tarp to protect the field during daily rehearsals. She's also done a lot of work on the practice fields, from mowing to repair work.
"We've kind of bounced around a lot dealing with the stadium and two practice field sites,'' Deppen said. "So we've just been going back and forth touching up stadium and practice fields, patch work."
Deppen has been surrounded by some of the best in the industry, from all over the country. Roughly 30 groundkeepers and experts from the NFL, MLB, college, golf and some from sod farms have been a part of the crew. Deppen is one of four females in the group.
Deppen said the practice fields have held up well, and the field at the stadium "looks great."
On Saturday, her work will involve putting a fresh coat of paint on the logos at NRG Stadium, and dragging the field to make sure it's a smooth and playable surface for the Patriots and Falcons.
On Sunday, as she stands on the playing surface, she'll take some satisfaction in seeing the field at kickoff.
"It is great to be out here," Deppen said. "It's a lot of time, but when Sunday rolls around and you're watching the game you kind of sit back and say, 'Hey, I played some kind of role, we all did, in getting the field ready and making this thing happen for today. It is great, and you are working with a bunch of different people, so it's a great experience, too."
Steve McNair leads a miraculous comeback that falls just short in Super Bowl XXXIV vs. the St. Louis Rams. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP, Getty)