FOXBOROUGH — After Sunday’s 20-18 loss to the Cardinals, several Patriots pointed to some bad practices as a contributing factor in their disappointing performance.
Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins and others pointed to a less-than-stellar week of on-field preparations.
“Not as crisp, not as clean as you really want to practice going into a big game,” Mankins said. “That’s what we had and I think it might have carried over. I think we learn from that; we better have a better practice this week [heading into Baltimore].”
Monday, it was evident that talk of poor practice had been nixed.
“I really don’t want to address that one, to be honest with you,” cocaptain Matthew Slater said. “We’ve just got to go out and practice hard and try to do the right things.”
When the topic was broached with coach Bill Belichick, he said to ask the players why they felt it wasn’t their best week of preparation.
“I think practice is practice. Practice never goes perfectly,” he said. “That’s what practice is for: you work on new things, you work on things that the team you’re playing is doing and you correct those and sometimes you get a chance to run those plays again in practice but usually you really don’t.
“We just don’t have that many plays by the time you get in all the situation ways — third down, red area, goal line, short yardage, all the special teams things, second-and-long, second-and-short, all that, you just don’t have time to go back and repeat everything three and four times. There are corrections on every play; that’s what we practice for.”
No Hernandez news
As is his custom, Belichick offered little in the way of an update on Aaron Hernandez, who suffered a painful-looking right ankle injury early in Sunday’s game.
Asked if Hernandez had any broken bones, Belichick said, “I think they’re still looking at him,” and later said he had no idea how long the third-year playmaker might be out.
Hernandez underwent an MRI Monday, which would determine ligament damage; X-rays taken Sunday were negative.
Slater said Hernandez plays a big role, but it’s time for others to step up.
“Aaron is very valuable piece to this team, piece to this puzzle of the New England Patriots, but there are 53 guys on this team, and all that means is the rest of us are going to have to pick up the slack and do our jobs a little bit better, whatever we’re asked to do,” he said.
“We’re just going to have to move forward and wish him a speedy recovery and hopefully he can join us on the field soon.”
One potential positive for the Patriots offensive line was that right tackle Sebastian Vollmer played almost twice as many snaps against the Cardinals as he had a week earlier against Tennessee.
Sidelined by an ailing back for nearly the entire preseason, Vollmer played 34 of 67 snaps against the Titans, with Marcus Cannon subbing in.
On Sunday, Vollmer played in 62 of 82 snaps, with Cannon playing the other 20.
Though they left Gillette Stadium with an upset win, the Cardinals seemed to avoid any bragging in their postgame comments. But cornerback Patrick Peterson, who played offense, defense, and special teams — he took a direct snap in a Wildcat-type package and made a one-handed interception in the first quarter — did say that perhaps Stephen Gostkowski “was a little scared” of Arizona’s field-goal block unit on his game-ending miss. When Belichick was asked about the comment, he gave a gentle reminder to Peterson: “I think they’re a good kick-blocking team. We kicked four field goals before that.”
Shalise Manza Young can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.