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Bryan Stork again only absentee from Patriots practice Thursday

01.15.15 at 1:26 pm ET
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The Patriots worked out Thursday in the drizzle of Gillette Stadium in advance of Sunday's AFC championship game against the Colts. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Patriots worked out Thursday in the drizzle of Gillette Stadium in advance of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Colts. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — With steam rising from the field turf of Gillette Stadium, the Patriots practiced in the drizzle Thursday in sweats and shells. And for a second straight day, the only absentee was starting center Bryan Stork.

The rookie center left Saturday’s game with a knee injury and was not spotted at practice as the Patriots continue to work in advance of Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

“I think Bryan has done a good job for us,”€ said coach Bill Belichick on Tuesday’s conference call. “€œWe finished the game without him last week and if he wasn’€™t available then we’€™d be in a similar situation this week. Whether it would be the same [personnel] or different, I don’€™t really want to get into that. He’€™s obviously done a good job for us, he’€™s grown along the way.”

Brandon Browner, who left Saturday’s game and didn’t return, was against present at Thursday’s practice. Browner was among four players limited at Wednesday’s practice.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, AFC Championship, Brandon Browner, Bryan Stork

Tom Brady refuses to get down and dirty with Ray Lewis over tuck rule

01.15.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady had many verbal battles with Ray Lewis in their time together. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Just four days before his record ninth appearance in the AFC championship, Tom Brady isn’t about to get distracted by anyone, not even old friend Ray Lewis. That’s why Brady would not fire back at the former Ravens linebacker and self-proclaimed “football historian” for saying Brady would be a nobody without the “tuck rule” helping him win his first career playoff game in Jan. 2002.

Brady, informed of the comments by Patriots spokesman Stacey James, took the high road Thursday at his press conference.

“Everyone has an opinion,” Brady said. “I think Ray is a great player. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.”

Brady has a bloodshot right eye, courtesy the eye gouge from Ravens defensive end Timmy Jernigan Saturday night. Did Lewis ever try the eye gouge maneuver?

“No maybe worse than that, maybe worse. He was a pretty tough player,” said Brady.

Lewis, appearing Monday on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio, was asked about the fourth-quarter reception by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant against the Packers last Sunday that was overturned on appeal because he didn’t complete the process of the catch as he went to the ground.

“There are so many rules in this game that is a very simple game,” Lewis said. “My argument, If you want to make this game and keep this game pure so where integrity drives this game, leave all these man-made lawyer rules out of the game.

“The only reason we know who Tom Brady is, [it’s] because of the tuck rule. There’s no such thing as the tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out of your hand — whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out – that’s a freaking fumble,” Lewis said. “But guess what we created? We created a freaking tuck rule!”

The tuck rule was eventually eliminated by NFL owners in 2013, but to this day, Lewis said Brady owes his fame to the fact it existed in 2001, when Charles Woodson‘s strip sack was overturned.

As for Jernigan, Brady said sarcastically, “it was a good move. You can’t even do that in pro wrestling.”

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots, Ray Lewis

NFL places Colts LB Josh McNary on Exempt/Commissioner Permission list following rape charge

01.15.15 at 11:26 am ET
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After being charged with rape on Wednesday, Colts backup linebacker Josh McNary will not play against the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship, as he was placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.

To take the space on the Colts’ 53-man roster, they have signed wide receiver Griff Whalen to the active roster. Whalen has played in 19 career regular-season games (three starts) with the Colts and has caught 26 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were on this list earlier in the season. Here is what being on the list means from the NFL Player Personnel Policy Manual:

EXEMPT LIST. The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Josh McNary,

Go on board the Gronkowski Family Party Bus

01.15.15 at 7:00 am ET
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The latest episode of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” provided viewers with a look at the Gronkowski family party bus, where Rob Gronkowski‘s dad and brothers take tailgating at Gillette to a whole new level.

Read More: Rob Gronkowski,

Those who know Sergio Brown say Rob Gronkowski has more trash talk coming his way

01.14.15 at 10:55 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski and Sergio Brown (38) will be going at it again on Sunday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski and Sergio Brown (38) will be going at it again on Sunday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Sunday’s AFC championship will be round two between Rob Gronkowski and Colts safety Sergio Brown.

Everyone remembers the last meeting between the two teams on Nov. 16 when Gronkowski blocked Brown almost 10 yards out of bounds and into a NBC camera station during the fourth quarter picking up a 15-yard penalty and later a fine because Brown was “yappin'” all game, so Gronkowski claimed he “threw him out of the club.”

Brown took to Twitter the next day (although they were shortly thereafter deleted) to rant against Gronkowski, claiming that he “put straps on that boy”€ and Gronkowski blocked him out of bounds in an act of frustration because he “can’€™t do [poop emoji] inbetween the whistle.”

Gronkowski finished the game with five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 42-20 win.

For many people who know Brown, they don’t expect him to back down one bit on Sunday.

“Sergio wouldn’t back down from anybody,” said Aaron Peppers, Brown’s high school coach at Proviso East High School, over the phone Wednesday. “Right now, I guess Gronk is like one of the top three tight ends in the league, but it wouldn’t matter — it could have been Jerry Rice, Sergio is taking on the challenge. He is not backing down to anybody.”

“I remember that, the play against Gronk — the two were out there battling and talking back-and-forth, almost fighting, but I knew with Sergio’s intensity he wasn’t giving up,” Peppers added. “He was up for the challenge. He didn’t want to hear that Gronk stuff — Gronk is this, Gronk is that. That doesn’t bother Sergio. You have to play the game.”

Gronkowski was asked Wednesday if he was looking forward to going against Brown again. The Patriots tight end said he was just excited to play the game, no matter who he was going against.

“I’€™m just excited to go out there and play the game of football, no matter who it is [versus],” he said.

Brown has been a trash talker virtually his whole career. After playing at Proviso East, he went onto play for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame before being signed by the Patriots in 2010 as an undrafted free agent. He spent two seasons with the Patriots before hooking on with the Colts in 2012 and has been there ever since.

Playing in 15 regular-season games this season, he has recorded 33 tackles. Along with playing safety, he is a core special teams player. He has one career interception, which came in New England during the 2011 season.

Brown’s special teams coach at Notre Dame, and current University of Nevada head coach, Brian Polian (Bill Polian‘s son) remembers Brown talking a lot on the field, but it didn’t bother him.

“He was lively, he talked a lot, yeah,” Polian said over the phone Tuesday. “But, it was just one of those guys that when his motor was running, when he was excited to compete usually his mouth was running at the same time. It never bothered me because I enjoyed it. It doesn’t come from a bad place, he’s just out there competing.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Rob Gronkowski, Sergio Brown,

Adam Vinatieri on Indianapolis: ‘As far as I’m concerned, this is home’

01.14.15 at 9:19 pm ET
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Adam Vinatieri missed just one field goal all regular season. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri missed just one field goal all regular season. (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Adam Vinatieri won three Super Bowls with New England and was a Patriot from 1996-2005, but the kicker seems to have put that in the past, as he went on an Indianapolis radio station on Wednesday and declared Indy his “home.”

“I’ve been ten years there and nine years now here,” Vinatieri said on 1070 the Fan. “It almost feels like two complete, full careers — and in a sense it really has been, you know, when you think of the league average at a little over three years and this being my nineteenth season now, it almost feels like I’ve had two separate lifetimes, different careers.

“I definitely respect all the stuff that we accomplished in New England when I was there, but this is home for me. My kids never knew me as a New England Patriot, they only know me as a Colt with the horseshoe on my helmet. So we’re going to stay and raise our kids here and as far as I’m concerned, this is home.”

Even at age 42, Vinatieri is kicking at a high level, as he was 30-31 during the regular season, which led the league at 96.8 percent. He was 20-for-20 from inside 40 yards. It doesn’t seem like he has any short-term plans to retire either.

“I’ve always said that as long as I’m still loving it, which I do, and as long as I can still do it — if I can do it at a high enough level — there’s nothing I’d rather be doing,” Vinatieri said. “I think i would miss it a lot the day that I’m watching it from the couch or something like that. I love it. I haven’t set a definite time yet, I haven’t set ‘next year’s going to be my last year.’ I’m going to take it one day at a time, and if I’m feeling healthy and can continue to kick well, we’ll see how far I can go.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Adam Vinatieri,

Colts LB Josh McNary charged with rape

01.14.15 at 5:49 pm ET
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Colts linebacker Josh McNary has been charged with one count of rape, one count of criminal confinement and one count of battery, according to court documents.

The incident reportedly happened in November, according to Fox59.

The Colts released a statement, which read: “We are aware that there has been a report about Josh McNary, but unfortunately that is the limit of our knowledge. At this time we are very concerned and trying to find out what the relevant facts are, but we have insufficient information to venture any opinion. As we learn more we will make appropriate updates.”

McNary, mostly a special teams player, appeared in 15 games this season and finished with 16 tackles. The 26-year-old played in college at Army, and after two years of active military service was signed by the Colts on April 10, 2013.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Indianapolis Colts, Josh McNary,
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