Patriots

49ers Smith relishes matchup with Solder

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49ers Smith relishes matchup with Solder

Aldon Smith has 19.5 sacks entering Sunday night's game. He sounds optimistic he'll be well past 20 if he's matched up with Nate Solder all night.

In a Q&A with the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Smith was asked about his college matchup with Solder when the Patriots left tackle was at Colorado and Smith was a freshman at Missouri.

Q: Do you remember what happened when you faced Nate Solder in college?ALDON SMITH: I had a good game.Q: You had three sacks.ALDON SMITH: Four.Q: Must have been looking at the wrong box score.ALDON SMITH: Must have.Q: Does that give you good feeling going into this game?ALDON SMITH: Yeah. I faced him in college and I know who he is.Q: Is it just a good matchup for you?ALDON SMITH: I was able to beat him, yeah.Q: Is he a much different player now?ALDON SMITH: Im sure he improved. He made it this far. Hes starting.
There's a little more in the interview, including a quote from Smith where he says "We can stop them," in reference to the Patriots offense.

Context is important on that one. The question posed was, "We asked Fangio if he enjoys facing the Patriots, and he asked us if we were sadists. When you look at the Patriots offense, do you say, 'Wow, how do we stop them?' or 'We can stop them.'

What's the kid supposed to say?

Either way, Solder is enjoying a good 2012 season in his first run as the Patriots full-time left tackle. Not only is he better than he was when he faced Smith, he's miles better now than he was in the preseason.

He's allowed three sacks, five QB hits and 25 quarterback hurries according to Pro Football Focus. The hurries are the most subjective of the three stats. Personally, I'd consider a "hurry" to be charged when a quarterback is facing impending doom and gets rid of the ball prematurely to avoid a sack allowed by the offending lineman.

It should be an interesting matchup. And, regardless of how well Solder's playing, the Patriots are certain to devote a lot of attention to stopping Smith.

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski's never suffered a break like the one Gordon Hayward did on Tuesday night, but he has been through enough to know what lies ahead as the Celtics forward stares at a lengthy recovery period.

"I saw it. I mean, I wish him nothing but wellness," Gronkowski said on Wednesday. "Hopefully he heals ASAP. You never want to see that with a player in any sport. When my friend showed me that last night, you get that feeling in your body, like, your heart drops. I wish him well.

"I can't wait to see him back. I know he's going to bounce back. Being here in Boston, he's going to be a hard worker it feels like. I can't wait to see him back."

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Multiple back surgeries, a plate in his arm, a surgically-repaired ACL . . . Gronkowski has put in his share of rehabilitation work. Asked if he'd give Hayward any advice as he embarks on his road back to normalcy, Gronkowski's message was simple.

"Just go into rehab just like you go into anything else. Dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you're 100 percent . . . He wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't a hard worker. I don't know the guy. Never met him. But it's not something you want to see as an athlete happen to anyone else."

Gronkowski acknowledged that in his experience, one of the biggest hurdles following an injury like that is the mental one. You quickly go from being a powerful athlete to a patient in need of help with even the smallest of tasks. 

"There is a big mental challenge, definitely, with that," Gronkowski explained. "It's not just not being able to be with your teammates and all that. It's outside of football, too. Because it takes away your whole life, going out like that . . . You can't do anything. You can't walk. You gotta have people do [things for you]. You get really frustrated. You just want the people around you to help you out and keep you in the best mindset throughout the whole process."

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore, Rowe absent; Hogan added

FOXBORO -- Chris Hogan only had one catch for 19 yards against the Jets. He very nearly had a second grab in the second quarter, but Tom Brady's throw was off the mark, and Hogan's ribs were exposed for rookie safety Marcus Maye to hammer. The pass fell incomplete and Hogan crumpled to the turf. 

He didn't leave the game, but Hogan did end up on Wednesday's injury report as a limited participant in practice due to a ribs injury. He was one of three players added to this week's injury report. Linebacker Elandon Roberts has an ankle injury and did not participate in Wednesday's workout. Guard Shaq Mason has a shoulder issue and was limited. 

Eric Rowe and Stephon Gilmore, neither of whom were spotted at the start of the session, did not participate.

Here's Wednesday's full practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Falcons game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
K Matt Bryant (back)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)