Hernandez: It was good to be out there

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Hernandez: It was good to be out there

FOXBORO -- Aaron Hernandez may have returned to the practice field October 4, but in two weeks he didn't once talk with reporters about his ankle sprain. Par for the course when it comes to the Patriots and injuries.

But that changed Thursday.

The tight end finally saw game action, playing 38 of 87 offensive snaps last weekend in Seattle. Three days before trying his luck against the Jets, Hernandez spoke with the press about going down, sitting out, and coming back.

How did it feel to get back out there Sunday?

AH: "I felt pretty good. It was good to be out there and help the team."

Any complications?

AH: "I came out healthy, and hopefully I'll come out healthy this week."

How difficult was it to be sidelined for three weeks?

AH: "Obviously, it was tough. Especially when you live to play football, you've been doing it your whole life. You want to play, you want to help the team. And that's why I came back."

Did you feel like you hit the ground running?

AH: "That's the only thing you could do. Maybe I was a step slower, but I felt pretty good and look forward to getting better."

What was your initial reaction to the injury itself?

AH: "I know we have a great training staff and I know they're going to work hard to get us back, especially under Bill's supervision. So I knew I was going to have a quick recovery and came back pretty good."

But when you first went down and you were holding the ankle, how bad did you think it was?

AH: "Broke. But it healed and I'm better now."

Was there any thought to play against Denver after your first week back at practice?

AH: "I don't think I was ready. Obviously I wanted to but it wasn't the right thing to do. Coach made a decision that next week would be best and I played the next week."

When did you know you were ready to return?

AH: "Coach said I could play. Laughs."

Does going to the ground after a tackle and coming back up okay help you get into the groove?

AH: "It's all about confidence. Got more practice time in and gained some more confidence in cutting off the ankle because I cut a lot. So I gained some confidence and it made me feel comfortable going out and playing a game."

Catching Tom Brady's first pass Sunday must have helped.

AH: "Yeah, when you're out there on the field you kind of forget about everything and just hope for the best. Once I caught that first pass I got back into the game and wanted the ball some more."

Any worry about setbacks?

AH: "You get nervous at times, but it's feeling great so it's really nothing to worry about anymore. If it gets hurt then it's the man above. But I guess I'll be all right."

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

Mayock: If I'm Cleveland, I'd be 'stoked' to land Garoppolo for No. 12 pick

NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock quarterbacked a marathon conference call with reporters from around the country on Monday in order to shed some light on the prospects who will compete at the combine later this week. One thing that stood out? He's not ready to crown anyone in this year's crop of draftable signal-callers.

As a result of the dearth of pro-ready talent at quarterback, Mayock recognized Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo as perhaps the top target for any quarterback-needy team. Garoppolo might interest the Cleveland Browns in particular, Mayock noted, because of the number of picks they have near the top of the draft.

"In my opinion," Mayock said, "if I'm the Cleveland Browns and I've got No. 1 and No. 12, if I came away with either [defensive end Myles] Garrett or [defensive tackle] Jonathan Allen at No. 1, and gave up the 12th pick in the draft to get Garoppolo? I would be stoked.

"I would feel like I had a difference-maker on defense and we had a quarterback on offense. Now let's get to work. We got five in the first 65 picks. Let's get to work. From my perspective, especially looking at the quarterbacks this year, if they gave up No. 12 and could get Garoppolo, I'd be all over that."

Patriots promote coaching assistant Nick Caley to tight ends coach

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Patriots promote coaching assistant Nick Caley to tight ends coach

As the Patriots so often like to do, they promoted from within to fill an open coaching position on Monday. 

The team announced that they've named Nick Caley as their tight ends coach, filling the vacancy left behind when Brian Daboll accepted the offensive coordinator position at the University of Alabama last week. 

Caley was a coaching assistant with the Patriots for the past two seasons after spending a decade in the college ranks at John Carroll (2005-06), Akron (2006-07), Auburn (2008), Iowa State (2009-11), Eastern Illinois (2012), Arkansas (2013) and Florida Atlantic (2014).

Caley is one of several John Carroll products -- including director of player personnel Nick Caserio, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Shuplinski -- working for the Patriots at the moment. He graduated from the Jesuit university situated just outside of Cleveland in 2006.