The Patriots held their final major practice of the week on Friday in preparations for their Sunday afternoon divisional playoff game against the New York Jets. The Patriots practiced inside Gillette Stadium for the first time all week, as they make their final strides for Sunday.
Defensive lineman Myron Pryor was once again not present during practice on Friday, likely meaning that he will not play on Sunday against the Jets. Pryor has been battling back trouble since Week 10, but there was optimism that he would play since he played in the Patriots season finale against the Dolphins. Rookie Kyle Love will likely get the start, as he has been taking reps with the first team all week in the Patriots 3-4 set.
Earlier in the week, head coach Bill Belichick was very critical of rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes's progress since coming off his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. On Friday, Belichick was a little less critical of Spikes, citing that "he's gotten a little better."
Spikes will likely be used on run stopping packages in the Patriots 3-4 defense. Even though he will be utilized this week, it's clear that he's not quite out of the Belichick's doghouse just yet.
We also got word from Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez today that he will play on Sunday, and that he is excited to get back on the field.
"It's been great. It's feeling good. I've had a good week of practice and I'm ready to go,"
Hernandez has been out since Week 15 with a hip injury, giving other rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski more reps. Hernandez poses a big threat to the Jets defense, as he has a total of nine catches for 152 yards against the Jets this season.