Patriots locker room observations: No limp for Hernandez

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Patriots locker room observations: No limp for Hernandez

FOXBORO -- The news of Kellen Winslow's release may be a sign that Aaron Hernandez's injured left ankle is making progress.

On Thursday, Hernandez walked around the Patriots locker room barefoot and without any kind of noticeable limp. He missed practice for the second straight day on Thursday, however, and he will likely need more time before he's running and cutting.

Still, no boot, no limp. Both good signs for the Patriots.

Here are a few other quick observations from Thursday's media session:

Trevor Scott has been busy lining up ticket requests as he gets ready to head to Buffalo this weekend. The defensive end was born in Potsdam, New York and played his college ball at the University of Buffalo. Scott said he was a Giants fan growing up, but many of his friends are "die hard" Bills fans. In college, he got to first hand the passion with which the entire city of Buffalo follows its teams.

"The Bills or the Sabres, every time those guys are playing," Scott said, "they're pretty rowdy about it."

Patriots players preparing to face Harvard-educated Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick were asked to name the smartest players in New England's locker room.

Rob Ninkovich went with Rob Gronkowski.

"Mathematics, if I have anything going wrong with my car, Gronkowski fixes it right away," Ninkovich said with a smile.

Matthew Slater went with his old roommate: center Ryan Wendell.

"He knows a little bit about everything," Slater said. "Go visit with him. You'll see he's a bright guy."

Gillette Stadium caterers wore black-and-white striped shirts today. Perhaps a statement that they're happy to see the NFL's officials returning to work? Maybe, but probably not.

McDaniels 'loves' Patriots, but wants to be a head coach again

McDaniels 'loves' Patriots, but wants to be a head coach again

FOXBORO -- It seems just about every year, Josh McDaniels is considered one of the leading candidates to land a head coachING job. But here the Patriots are, ready to start camp, and McDaniels remains where he’s been since January of 2012, as Bill Belichick’s offensive coordinator. 

It’s not as if McDaniels hasn’t had opportunities. A couple of seasons ago, he interviewed for both the San Francisco and Atlanta gigs. But this past year, the 40-year-old declined to speak with any team, despite strong interest from Miami, the New York Giants and Tennessee. At the time, McDaniels made it clear he was focused on the Pats and their upcoming playoff game against Kansas City. There’s also been the strong sense that McDaniels and his young family enjoy the area and, of course, coaching Tom Brady and coaching with Belichick.

Today, however, McDaniels made clear he’d like another shot, eventually.

“Yeah, I mean I love… this is an incredible place to work. I love being here,” he smiled. “I’m happy to do this job as much as I can, as long as they’ll have me . . . (But) I do, I want to be a head coach (again) at some point in my life. I’ve learned so much over the last so many years. Hopefully, gained a lot of wisdom, and if and when that time comes, I’d look forward to the challenge  of doing it again.”

Of course, McDaniels had that opportunity once, named the youngest head coach -- at age 33 -- in NFL history back in 2009, when the Denver Broncos tabbed him to replace legendary boss Mike Shanahan. McDaniels guided the Broncos to a 6-0 start in his first year, including an overtime win over the Patriots that was punctuated with McDaniels exuberantly pumping his fist to the crowd. Then the wheels fell off . . .  or, more accurately, disintegrated. Denver won just 5 of it’s next 22 games and McDaniels was dismissed in early December, before the 2010 season had concluded.