Thursday Afternoon Notes - Haynesworth Absent, Billick Calls Sunday a 'Trap Game', and More

Ian Logue
September 22, 2011 at 04:13pm ET

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Injuries continue to be an issue with the Patriots, and Thursday saw the absence of Albert Haynesworth along with Dan Gronkowski.

According to Mike Rodak of, Haynesworth was not spotted at the media access portion of Patriots practice on Thursday afternoon.  The defensive lineman practiced Wednesday and was reportedly not on the most recent injury report as of yesterday.  The team released the injury report earlier and listed him with a "back" injury.

The veteran didn't appear to suffer anything serious on Sunday, being spotted briefly on the sidelines getting stretched out with a trainer and later returned to the game.

As for Gronkowksi, he was limited in Wednesday's session and hopefully he'll be ready to go for this weekend since Hernandez' status remains up in the air due to an MCL sprain.

Meanwhile cornerback Kyle Arrington was back at practice on Thursday, which was good news after taking quite a helmet shot on Sunday. According to published reports Arrington suffered a concussion in Sunday's game and his status for this weekend was in doubt.  Hopefully today's news means he's feeling better.

Mike Wright missed Thursday's practice as he continues battling a concussion. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

Rodak also points out that Sebastian Vollmer (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion), and safety Patrick Chung (hand) were also among the missing.  Vollmer also was absent yesterday, so this marks the second straight missed practice for the veteran.  He started Sunday's game against San Diego and didn't appear to get hurt, so as I wrote yesterday hopefully these two absences are just a precaution as he continues recovering from the injury.

Some other news from today:

- If Chung's out, the secondary needs to step up - Chung's status for Sunday definitely puts some additional strain on the New England secondary, but cornerback Devin McCourty told Nick Underhill of that someone will need to step up.  "Someone just has to step up," said McCourty. "We're not really worried about that. We'll go day by day with the guys out there practicing, and when it's time to play Sunday, guys step up and get ready to go."  Chung reportedly injured his thumb while jamming Antonio Gates during Sunday's game and left briefly before returning with a cast on his hand.

- Hernandez says he feels 'great' - Hernandez was spotted walking around the locker room, and according to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald, dodged reporters and didn't appear to have a noticeable limp.  That's encouraging considering some of the recent reports, so hopefully we'll see him sooner than some were indicating.

- Patriots promote Tarpinian off of the practice squad - The Patriots announced on Thursday that they signed linebacker Jeff Tarpinian off the practice squad to the 53 man roster, and as a result released linebacker A.J. Edds.  Tarpinian's a guy who caught some eyes in preseason after he was signed as an undrafted free agent, and was also the target of some debate after he initially made the 53 man roster.  However, most Iowa fans remember him for plays like this.  He's expected to provide some help at special teams due to the number of injuries they're currently dealing with.

- Buffalo has the league's top ground game - Today's news about Haynesworth raises an eyebrow, especially considering the Patriots will have their hands full with Buffalo's rushing attack.  As Chris Forsberg of ESPN points out, the Bills lead the league in rushing with an average of 19 yards per game, which is highlighted by runningback Fred Jackson.  New England's  Vince Wilfork feels that Jackson's a guy who deserves more attention. "I’ll tell you what, Fred Jackson, he is so underrated," said Wilfork. "This guy, I think I said it a couple years ago, and I know I said it last year, he is so underrated, he is just one of the most tough backs. You can give him the ball 30 times if you want to ... and he will kill you on the ground and in the air, those two together, make a good running back, so we have our hands full."  Jackson carried 13 times for 81 yards during their last meeting against New England last season, averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

- Brian Billick thinks Sunday's game is a 'Trap Game' - And finally I came across this article on that had some comments from NFL Network analyst Brian Billick, who called Sunday's game against the Bills a potential 'Trap Game' for New England.  "This week, the Patriots and the Jets face similar trap road games on Sunday, with New England visiting Buffalo and New York traveling to Oakland," wrote Billick. "Even with the improvement the Bills have shown so far this season, let's face it, they've only beaten Kansas City and Oakland. Oakland has an excellent rushing attack, but its one win is against Denver, not the most intimidating team. So these are very winnable games for the Patriots and Jets. But with that said, and as evidenced by Baltimore last week, neither the Jets nor the Patriots can afford to overlook any road opponent, not this week, or ever."