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Chandler Jones back to playing full speed, and Bill Belichick notices 12.19.14 at 1:15 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Chandler Jones had no hesitation in returning to game action last Sunday, playing 55 of 78 snaps in a 41-13 win over the Dolphins.

But more to the point and more importantly, Bill Belichick saw no hesitation in his game. His seven combined tackles was third highest on the team and his 1.5 sacks led a revitalized Patriots pass rush that got after Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

A coach can never be certain a player is ready to return, especially after Jones missed six games with a hip injury. But Belichick said Friday he had a pretty good idea.

“I think you usually get a pretty good indication of it in practice, but there’€™s no substitute for game evaluation. I think that’€™s where you really can highlight it. A guy can look good in practice, you could feel like he’€™s ready to go and then you watch him perform in the game and maybe it’€™s not quite what you thought it would be, or maybe it is.

“I think that’€™s when you really know. Some of that is just confidence too. You go out there and a guy hasn’€™t played for a while and he kind of goes out there and tests it a little bit and then as he feels more confident then he becomes more aggressive.”

Jones was subbed in early on in the first half of last Sunday’s game but after watching the way he was playing, Belichick and the coaching staff gave the green light for him to play almost the rest of the way.

“I’€™d say in Chandler’€™s case, I think he didn’€™t have much of a tentative aspect to his game,” Belichick said. “I thought that he really went out and right off the bat, as soon as he got on the field, his playing style was similar to what it was before. I’€™m not saying that’€™s the case for him, but until you actually see it, the player himself might be a little ‘€˜need to see it,’€™ and the coach might need to see it, too.”

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Chandler Jones on MFB: ‘I started to kind of tear up’ about returning from injury 12.15.14 at 12:16 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones, one of the defensive stars in Sunday’s 41-13 victory over the Dolphins, stopped by for a visit with the Middays with MFB crew on Monday at Gillette Stadium. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Jones made his return to the field after missing six games with a reported hip injury, and the defensive end finished with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble while playing 55 of 81 snaps.

“My biggest thing was just moving forward from it. Each day forward was progression,” said Jones, who noted that he had an ‘X’ on the calendar marking the day he wanted to return. “I was just waiting for the doctor’s word and just taking it day by day by day, like Bill [Belichick] said. Yesterday was the day.”

Added Jones: “As I was sitting there getting ready, going through my pregame ritual, I started to kind of tear up, like, ‘Wow, I’m back, I’m back playing.’ And I just just hoped and prayed to God that I had a decent game and I was still able to move around. Because ‘lower-body injuries’ are harder to come back from.”

The Dolphins rallied past the Patriots for a win in Week 1, but the Pats showed that they are a different team than the one that started the season in Miami.

“Honestly and personally, I feel like each team in the NFL is a different team each week,” Jones said. “And not just as far as the roster — well, actually, the roster, too. And just the way teams approach different games and different game plans and different schemes. So we didn’t really look too far back on what had happened or certain yards given up. We had a new team since the last time we played them, and so did they. We just worked for what we had and we just tried to out-execute them, which we did.”

Teammate Brandon Browner continues to rack up the penalties, but Jones said the cornerback shouldn’t be too concerned about it.

“Brandon Browner is a very physical presence and he’s a very aggressive player,” Jones said. “I admire his game. I love it. I love it. Each and every time something happens I always walk up to him and say, ‘Hey, you know, let’s keep’ — because when guys start dwelling on the penalties and what they have done on the previous play, that’s when you get mixed [up]. There’s a whole game ahead of you. That’s my biggest thing, is I try to tell guys when I’m out there, ‘There’s a whole game to play, so don’t worry about that one play.’ So, he’s fine, he’s good. He’ll be all right.”

During his appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, Tom Brady talked about his devotion to a proper diet. Jones admitted that he doesn’t have the same approach.

“I know I shouldn’t say this because I do a lot of things with the Play 60, you know, 60 minutes a day with the little kids and exercise, but I am seriously a human dumpster,” he said. “I will eat anything. I will eat anything.”

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Chandler Jones says it ‘got a little emotional’ in return after missing 6 games 12.14.14 at 7:41 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

FOXBORO — It had been almost exactly two months to the day since Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones last played in a game.

Sunday, Jones returned to action for the first time since suffering a hip injury Oct. 16 against the Jets and made his return memorable, as he finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Patriots’ 41-13 blowout win over the Dolphins.

“€œI felt great,” said Jones. “The coaches did a great job of mixing me up and switching in-and-out with different guys. It also felt really good to be back out there with my teammates.”

By our count, Jones played 48 snaps and didn’t seem limited in any way. He lined up both as a defensive end, and in a 3-point stance with Akeem Ayers and Dont’a Hightower sometimes outside of him.

Jones returned to practice the week of the Green Bay game, two weeks ago, but eased back into things before being active for the first time on Sunday.

“€œI was just listening to what Coach [Bill] Belichick told me and the doctors and the trainers, taking it a day at a time,” said Jones. “I know you guys heard Bill say we’€™ll take it day-by-day-by-day, and that’€™s what we were doing. Like I said, it felt good to be back out there with my teammates. Just a few months ago I was on crutches. So for me to be out there running with my team, I got a little emotional, but it felt good to be out there.”

It was the first extended period of time the defensive end has missed since missing some time in his rookie year, so before the game when he was getting back into his pregame routine was when he started to become emotional.

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Chandler Jones (hip) inactive for 6th straight game, Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) also inactive 12.07.14 at 7:03 pm ET
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Dont'a Hightower will miss his third game of season Sunday night in San Diego. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Dont’a Hightower will miss his third game of season Sunday night in San Diego. (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Chandler Jones will miss his sixth straight game with a hip injury. Jones is one of the seven inactives for Sunday night’s game here at Qualcomm Stadium.

Also inactive is linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who is nursing a right shoulder injury suffered last week in the second half of the loss at Green Bay. This could mean much more significant playing time for Jonathan Casillas, acquired in a mid-October trade with the Buccaneers.

This is the third game missed for Hightower, who didn’t play against the Bengals and Bills with a knee injury.

Backup linebacker and special teams core player Chris White (ankle) will miss his second straight game. The other four inactives are offensive lineman Cameron Fleming, running back James White, defensive back Alfonzo Dennard and offensive lineman Jordan Devey.

Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga is active and will play after being activated on Saturday from the short term injured reserve list. Siliga injured his foot in the Week 3 win over the Raiders.

For the Chargers, rookie center Chris Watt (calf) is active and expected to start for the Chargers. Right tackle D.J. Fluker suffered a concussion on Wednesday in practice and passed testing protocols after missing practice Thursday. He returned to practice Friday and is active for the game.

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Chris White absent while Danny Aiken remains in non-contact jersey 12.05.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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Chris White

Chris White

SAN DIEGO — The Patriots wrapped up their on-field preparations here at the University of San Diego on Friday before taking part in a walkthrough on Saturday.

Linebacker Chris White (ankle) was again the only Patriots player missing from shorts and shells practice while music blared from inside Torero Stadium. Friday is typically a day for red zone offensive and defensive work. White, a core special teams player, missed last Sunday’s game against the Packers after landing on the injury report in the middle of last week.

The only other significant note was the presence of long snapper Danny Aiken in a non-contact red jersey. Aiken missed Sunday’s game in Green Bay with a concussion suffered in the win over the Lions on Nov. 23. missed practice once again. If Aiken misses again, Rob Ninkovich will be the long snapper for the second straight game.

Chandler Jones (hip) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) were on the field but their status remains up in the air. Jones has missed the last five games while Hightower is getting extra treatment on his shoulder in an effort to be ready for Sunday night.

For the Chargers, tackle D.J. Flucker was added to the injury report after suffering a concussion in Wednesday’s practice. He didn’t practice Thursday but returned on Friday. Quarterback Philip Rivers was also added with a chest injury, but was a full participant in practice and is listed as probable for Sunday.

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DE Chandler Jones discusses road back from injury 12.04.14 at 4:04 pm ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

In his first public comments since going down with a hip injury in Week 7, Chandler Jones told reporters Thursday that he’s “just following the protocol” and doing what he needs to do to help the team.

“My biggest focus right now is just trying to catch up to the pace that the rest of my teammates are on and do what I can to help the team,” the Patriots defensive end told reporters. “Every day, I’m listening to what the coaches and the doctors are saying. However I can help the team, whether it’s in the film room or however it was, that’s what I’ll do.”

Jones, who said “we’re not going to talk about the injury at all,” said he’s doing whatever he can do while he’s sidelined.

“Every day, I’m listening to what the coaches and the doctors are saying,” he said. “However I can help the team, whether it’s in the film room or however it was, that’s what I’ll do.

“Every day is [a] progression, especially for someone that has been out. Every day forward is a good day.”

Jones has 4.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits this season with the Patriots.

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Sealver Siliga’s 21-day clock started, Chandler Jones present for 3rd straight day at Patriots practice 11.28.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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Sealver Siliga

Sealver Siliga

FOXBORO — The Patriots held practice outside in the cold on the grass fields behind Gillette Stadium Friday in advance of Sunday’s game in Green Bay against the Packers. Practice was in full pads.

The only player missing at the session was linebacker Chris White, who was added to the injury report on Thursday with an ankle injury, and was limited. Defensive end Chandler Jones (hip) practiced for a third straight day.

Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga was present at the start of practice, and with it being a full-padded practice and not a walkthrough, his 21-day window to be activated to the active roster has started. He was on short-term injured reserve designated for return after suffering a foot injury Week 3 against the Raiders.

The Patriots have one open roster spot on the 53-man roster with Don Jones’ release earlier in the day. That spot could go to Siliga, but this was the first full-padded practice he’s been spotted at since suffering the injury. The team has two spots open on its practice squad and one on the active roster.

Long-snapper Danny Aiken (concussion) was present and Charley Hughlett was released from the practice squad earlier in the day, so it seems likely Aiken will be ready to go on Sunday.

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