FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's been a rare occurrence this season due to injuries to both players, but New England Patriots tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were both in the locker room on Friday afternoon, as the team packed their bags for Jacksonville.
Gronkowski participated in practice all three days this week, and his official status for Sunday's game against the Jaguars is questionable, as is Hernandez. Both were listed as questionable last week as well. Hernandez played while Gronkowski missed his fourth consecutive game with a broken forearm.
In total, 19 Patriots were listed as questionable for Sunday’s game (full list below).
When asked if he was willing to talk to reporters on Friday, Gronkowski responded that he would speak next week, when the Patriots prepare for their regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins. Could that be an indication he’ll return for next week’s season finale? The Boston Globe reported Friday afternoon that Gronkowski would not play in Sunday’s game against the Jaguars.
Earlier this week, the question of whether the Patriots should give key players extra rest in the final two games was posed in this space. On Friday, coach Bill Belichick noted that the team has dialed back practices late in the season, trimming down some players' workloads.
Asked Friday if he has benefited from the reduced intensity of recent practices, Hernandez pointed out that only playing in eight games this season because of an ankle injury has kept his body fresh.
"I wasn't fortunate enough to play as much as a lot of my teammates, so I'm pretty good," Hernandez said. "But I'm sure it helps a lot of my teammates, because they're sore from playing a lot of games."