Hernandez (ankle) 'feeling pretty good' on Monday


Hernandez (ankle) 'feeling pretty good' on Monday

FOXBORO -- With Rob Gronkowski expected to be out for an extended period of time with a broken forearm, all eyes are on fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, who hasn't played since Week 7 against the Jets.

Hernandez is still battling an ankle injury which he suffered in the first quarter of a Week 2 loss to Arizona, forcing him to miss the next three games. But after returning for Week 6 in Seattle and Week 7 against the Jets, Hernandez hasn't suited up on Sunday.

Now that Gronkowski is out, the spotlight will be on Hernandez to see if he can be ready for Thursday night's game in New York.

"I'm feeling pretty good," said Hernandez inside the Patriots locker room on Monday night.

The Patriots did not practice on Monday, but Hernandez was listed as "limited" in a hypothetical practice report that, per NFL rules, must be released.

When asked if he would be ready to play on Thursday, Hernandez said, "We'll see."

He wasn't giving away much on Monday, and why would he? Hernandez spoke like a Patriot who knows exactly what has to happen next, if New England wants to have success.

They need to move on.

"Everyone has to step up and make plays, and follow the game plan," said Hernandez. "I'm sure we'll be alright.

"Obviously it's tough. Obviously he's one of the best players in the league. But, we have a lot of players, and everyone has to step up to fill the void. It puts pressure on everybody. Not just one player can just replace him. Everyone has to step up."

Doing so, is exactly what Bill Belichick has trained his players for. Be ready when you're called upon.

"The way this program is, the way Bill makes us become the players we become, we all have confidence and we all know we have to come to play every game, regardless," said Hernandez. "And in the NFL, people go down and other people have to step up.

"It'll change some things. Like I said, everyone will have to step up and whatever the change is, we have to make plays and fill that void we'll be missing."

As for whether the Patriots will be still missing Hernandez on Thursday night, is another question altogether.

"It's tough to watch," he said. "But hopefully I get back soon and help them out."

Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'


Butler imitates Brown with post-interception dance: 'Nothing personal'

Malcolm Butler didn't mean any disrespect. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 


When the Patriots corner picked off a Landry Jones pass in the first quarter -- one that was intended for receiver Antonio Brown -- Butler stood up in the end zone, faced the Heinz Field crowd, stuck one arm in the air a and gyrated like someone had attached jumper cables to his facemask. 

He was doing his best to mimick one of Brown's well-known touchdown dances.

"Me and Brown had conversation before," Butler said, "and it was a joke to him once I showed him how I do it. Much love for that guy. Nothing personal."

For Butler, it was the highlight of what was a productive afternoon. The third-year corner was asked to shadow Brown for much of the day, and he allowed Brown to catch five of nine targets for 94 yards. He also broke up a pair of passes intended for Brown's teammates.

“Stopping Antonio Brown, that’s impossible," Butler said. "You can’t stop him. You can only slow him down. I just went out there and tried to compete today . . . Great players are going to make plays but you have to match their intensity.”
Even on the longest throw from backup quarterback Landry Jones to Brown, a 51-yarder, it appeared as though Butler played the coverage called correctly. 

Butler lined up across from Brown and trailed him underneath as Brown worked his jway from the left side of the field to the right. Butler was looking for some help over the top in that scenario, seemingly, but because Brown ran across the formation, it was hard for the back end of the defense to figure out who would be helping Butler. 

Belichick admitted as much after the game. 

"He was on [Brown] a lot the way we set it up," Belichick said. "Look, they've got great players. They're tough to cover. They hit us on a couple over routes, in cut where they kind of ran away from the coverage that we had. 

"The plays were well designed. Good scheme, good thorws and obviously good routes by Brown. They got us on a couple, but I thought we competed hard. We battled all the way. We battled on third down. We battled in the red area. They made some. We made some, but they're good. They have a lot of good players."

And Brown, in particular, is about as close as it gets to unstoppable in the NFL. Butler found that out in Week 1 of last year when he matched up with Brown in his first game as a starter, giving up nine catches for 133 yards to the All-Pro wideout. 

Though Sunday might not have been perfect for Butler, it was better than that day about 14 months ago. And at times, it was worth dancing about. 

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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