Notes: With Gronk missing, Hernandez thrives

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Notes: With Gronk missing, Hernandez thrives

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- There were five Patriots completely absent from Tuesdayspractice at Gillette Stadium. Albert Haynesworth, Mike Wright, Rob Gronkowski, RyanWendell, and Eric Kettani were nowhere to be found, while linebacker BrandonSpikes was back on the field in a t-shirt and shorts. Offensive lineman DanConnolly was also on the field on Tuesday in a t-shirt and shorts, afterseemingly injuring his arm on Monday.

The rest of the roster remained the same as Monday.

@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; For the second straight day, Patriots training camp wasall about second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez.

It seemed like every chance New Englands quarterbacks couldget, they were getting him the ball on Tuesday afternoon, similar to what theywere also doing on Monday.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski left Mondays practice abouthalfway through with a slight limp, forcing him to miss Tuesdays session. Hernandez has benefited greatly from it, as he once again became thePatriots and more specifically, Tom Bradys No. 1 target, which includesevery receiver on the team.

The Patriots were wearing shorts and shells on Tuesday,and the two-hour practice began with Brady hosing down the rookies as they hadto slide through the mud and recover loose balls. Its not the most dangerousway to welcome the newcomers to the organization, but it also cant be toocomfortable practicing while soaking wet and completely muddy.

After that, it was business as usual, with Brady startingthings off by running through offensive sets from the two-yard line, using hisrunning backs and tight ends as his only targets.

Then it was time for the running backs and linebackers togo head-to-head with each other, with backup quarterback Brian Hoyer throwingthe passes. The highlight of this drill was linebacker Jerod Mayo playing roughwith the much smaller Danny Woodhead, knocking him to the ground just as theball got to him. Woodhead got up fine, and both players exchanged a friendlyhandshake.

The Gillette Stadium practice fields were hit with somerain for about 15 minutes, midway through the session, but that didnt stopanything.

Coach Bill Belichick continued to have his team run through11-on-11 drills for the rest of the practice, while mixing in some specialteams work throughout.

And even in the 11-on-11s Hernandez was the main target allday long.

The Patriots announced a roster move, waiving S Ross Ventrone and claiming rookie OL Mark Wetterer off waivers from Cincinnati, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability. 
 

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

McDaniels: 'Best for my family and myself' to remain with Patriots

Josh McDaniels will be staying put in New England, he said on Monday, because that's what's best for him and his family at this point in time. 

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The Patriots offensive coordinator was a front-runner for the open head-coaching job in San Francisco but has removed his name from consideration.

"I was really impressed with [Niners owner and CEO] Jed York and [Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Football Operations] Praag [Marathe] and [Director of Football Administration and Analytics] Brian [Hampton] and the people that came from the 49ers organization. They did a great job with their presentation. Again, humbled to be included in that process.

"At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

Next season will be McDaniels' sixth full season back with the Patriots since returning during the playoffs of the 2011 season.

"I've always said how grateful I am to have this opportunity to work here with Mr. Kraft and his family, and coach under Bill with a lot of great guys on our staff, and to have the privilege to get to work with the players that we work with each day," McDaniels said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm very thankful to be here, and very much looking forward to this week against Pittsburgh."