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Quick-hit thoughts from the first quarter

11/22/2012

After the first quarter of their Thanksgiving matchup, the Patriots are tied with the Jets 0-0. Passing along some quick-hit notes and observations.

1. Hernandez returns, starts. Though the Patriots are without tight end Rob Gronkowski, they were happy to welcome back fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez on Thursday night. Hernandez was on the field for the very first play of the game along with fellow tight end Daniel Fells, and later made a tremendous catch on his first touch back. We'll continue to monitor how the Patriots rotate their tight ends throughout the evening.

2. McCourty still at safety, Chung sees field too. Despite the return of safety Patrick Chung (shoulder), Devin McCourty once again earned the start at safety alongside Steve Gregory. It didn't take long for Chung to see the field, however, as he was inserted on the second play of the game as the Patriots entered a sub defense package. It's unclear what the Patriots' long-term plans are for Chung this season, but he could be used both on sub defense and special teams tonight to ease himself back into the swing of things.

3. Another miss from Gostkowski. For the second consecutive week, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal, hooking a 39-yard attempt wide left following the Patriots' second offensive drive. Gotskowski seemed to find a midseason groove, but has slipped in the past two weeks. He needs to be better, as both of the misses came within 40 yards.

4. Gregory comes up big. Safety Steve Gregory came up with the defensive play of the first quarter for the Patriots, intercepting a Mark Sanchez pass as the Jets were steadily approaching the red zone. It's his second interception as a Patriot, and the defense for New England continues to come up with opportunistic plays.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were called for penalties in the first quarter: quarterback Tom Brady (intentional grounding), nose tackle Vince Wilfork (encroachment), defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (holding).