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Quick hits from locker room

12/14/2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick hits from the media-access period in the Patriots' locker room (11:15 a.m.-noon):

1. Big media crowd, possibly the largest of the season. That reflects the view that Patriots-Broncos is one of the big sports stories of the week.

2. Players drawing larger media crowds included TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Rob Ninkovich, OT Matt Light, CB Antwaun Molden, S James Ihedigbo and P Zoltan Mesko. Hernandez fielded a lot of questions on Tim Tebow, his former teammate at the University of Florida. At one point, when asked his best Tebow story, Hernandez replied, "Let's keep it to the Patriots and Broncos." That has been a theme this week among players, how the Broncos are more than a one-man team.

3. Multiple defenders stressed the importance of keeping Tebow in the pocket, so "setting the edge" is a big part of the game-plan. That highlights the role of players like LB Rob Ninkovich.

4. Aaron Hernandez has been at ease this year when questioned by reporters, often turning to humor. Such was the case today when asked a light-hearted question on if he asks fellow TE Rob Gronkowski to share some of his TDs. "I just have to worry about catching them," he said, which drew a chuckle from reporters as Hernandez had what could have been a costly drop on a would-be TD pass against the Redskins on Sunday.

5. Hernandez on if he's surprised at TE Rob Gronkowski's production: "I'm actually not amazed. He did it all camp, he did it all year. We knew he was a freak of nature. He's kind of impossible to guard, with so much size and everything. I'm not shocked at all. No one, I don't think, on this team is."

6. LT Matt Light on if he's surprised at "Tebowmania": "You win that many games, and put your team in position to do what they've been able to do, I think if it happened here they'd be doing the same thing. Obviously, he's gotten things straightened out over there and put them in a really good position."

7. Light, when asked about his solid season (Bill Belichick's words), talked about feeling healthy and how much he enjoys the offensive line meeting room. He referenced how nice it's been to play with right guard Brian Waters ("old man B. Waters") and called left guard Logan Mankins his "trusty sidekick," while mentioning every other blocker as well. When asked about center Nick McDonald, he credited him for stepping in and getting the job done.

8. In one corner of the locker room, a bunch of players gathered around an iPhone to watch a humorous Jimmy Kimmel video (link here). Some laughter there. Rob Ninkovich looked like the ringleader.