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Patriots Blog: A Lonely Hernandez

By Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
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Aaron Hernandez #85 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrate a play against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 45-3. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Aaron Hernandez #85 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrate a play against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 45-3. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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FOXBORO (CBS) – The New England tight end tandem on Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez is missing a critical part; Gronkowski.

Because of Rob’s “high ankle sprain,” Hernandez is forced to work by himself right now.

“It’s a little boring,” Hernandez said Thursday, “but he’ll be back out there soon.”

Gronkowski missed his second straight practice on Friday, nursing the injury he suffered in the AFC Championship against the Ravens.

Gronk being out there on the field helps everybody in the Patriots offense.  As for Hernandez, he understands the importance of having #87 line up next to him.

“It’s great having a tight end like him. He can do it all,” Hernandez said. “It makes it that much easier on me. If he’s not here, it’s obviously a lot tougher on me. He draws so much attention because of how big he is, how physical, his speed. It makes me a better player.”

Read: Levan Reid’s Patriots Blog

Asked if he had any doubts that Gronkowski would be ready for the Super Bowl, he said, “I’m sure he’ll take it day by day and I’m sure he’ll be fine. That’s for him and the trainers to know about.”

Vince Is Ready

After having a great game against the Ravens, nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he’s ready for the Superbowl.  Here are some of the other items Vince talked about on Thursday:

On the Super Bowl: “This is what you play for. You have 32 players who play for this one game. To get here, that’s just the first step. Being able to go out and perform at your best, that’s the important step. I’m very happy and very excited. I’m excited about the players in this locker room. They work hard. Even though there were a bunch of ups and downs all season, this team just found a way. They didn’t let anyone tell them what they can and cannot do. They fought hard and we’re gonna have to fight hard for one more.”

On Eli Manning : “I think Eli’s probably playing like one of the best quarterbacks in the game. There have always been a lot of questions about Peyton, but now his little brother Eli has stepped his game up, big time. And he can always be compared to some of the greats in the game now, because of his production. He took that team over. I’m not saying he’s the only one, but his play alone led them in the right direction.”

On the Patriots’ defensive unit’s response to year-long criticism: “It let me know these guys listen — to the coaches, to the guys, to the veterans who have been around the game for a while. They get it. They knew how important it was for us to get better as a team and what we had to do to get better as a team. We made those changes. We made that progress. We moved forward. It’s a special bunch. At the end of the day, this is gonna be a special team.”

Locker Room Chatter

The Patriots locker room on Thursday was packed with reporters and the crowds are only going to get bigger going forward.  Different players had different things to say.

- Running back Kevin Faulk seemed to be the veteran to go to when talking about the Superbowl.  He said the Giants victory in Superbowl XLII means nothing.  He was a little edgy with reporters on Thursday.

“We can take more from the game we lost against them in the regular season than we can in the Super Bowl four years ago. It has no turnover at all,” said Faulk.

A reporter followed up asking if it had any emotional motivation.

“Why?”, Faulk responded.

The reporter mentioned revenge, to which Faulk retorted, “How? Four years ago? So we were out here for four years worrying about the New York Giants? Doesn’t make any sense.”

- Offensive lineman Matt Light, in his fifth Super Bowl in 11 years, knows he will have his hands full with the Giants defensive line.

“I think they’re all very athletic. I think they can all line up where they want. Whether they’re walking around behind the line of scrimmage, or playing defensive tackle versus defensive end, those guys are an athletic group,” said Light. “They play well with each other as far as running their games. I think when you have a group like that, you can’t just isolate any one of them. So we got our work cut out for us. …There’s other people that try to do similar things with their guys, walking them around, taking them off the line of scrimmage and moving them around, but I think [the Giants] probably the best.”

- The Patriots linebacker corp got a huge boost from the return of Brandon Spikes. Spikes picked off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the AFC Championship, but his fellow linebackers say he brings much more to the field than what appears on the stat sheet.

“He brings a ton of energy. He’s one of those guys on game day that you want to be around, because he’s so amped-up and ready to roll. So I love him out there and it’s great having him out there,” Rob Ninkovich said. “His physical play is just at a higher level. He’s just very physical, and he’s just great at stopping the run and really getting after people.”

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