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Patriots notebook

Haynesworth added to injury report

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / September 23, 2011

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FOXBOROUGH - As the practice time for Sunday’s game in Buffalo grows shorter, the Patriots’ list of injuries grows longer, with Albert Haynesworth and Dan Gronkowski missing yesterday’s session.

Haynesworth wasn’t on the field because of a back injury, and with defensive tackle Myron Pryor being placed on injured reserve this week after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, and Mike Wright (concussion) not expected to be available any time soon, depth on the defensive line could become an issue, especially going up against the top-ranked offense in the league. Haynesworth has two tackles in the team’s first two games.

Gronkowski missed because of a hamstring ailment. Tight end could be another trouble area, since a knee injury is expected to keep Aaron Hernandez out multiple weeks.

Patrick Chung, who had surgery earlier this week on his broken right thumb, also didn’t practice, which brings his availability for Sunday’s game in question. Chung, who gives the Patriots an impact player on defense (14 tackles, one sack) and special teams, didn’t practice Wednesday, either.

The sixth player on the 53-man roster who didn’t practice yesterday was offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, who has dealt with a back injury the past few weeks that caused him to miss the opener at Miami. He started last Sunday against the Chargers, though.

Zoltan Mesko, who injured his left (kicking) leg during a punt against the Chargers, had limited participation in practice, a sign that he might be available against the Bills. Cornerbacks Kyle Arrington (concussion) and Ras-I Dowling (hip), linebackers Gary Guyton (hamstring) and Jerod Mayo (thigh), receiver Taylor Price (hamstring), and offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (calf) also participated in a limited capacity.

Rush week One key to Sunday’s game figures to be Buffalo’s rushing offense against the Patriots’ run defense. The Bills, behind Fred Jackson (229 yards) and C.J. Spiller (8.8 yards per carry), are averaging a league-best 193 rushing yards per game. In two wins, the Patriots have allowed 4.5 yards per rush.

“Fred Jackson is so underrated,’’ said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. “You can give him the ball 30 times if you want to. And Spiller, he’s just speed. Those two together make a good team, a good running attack. We have our hands full.’’

The Bills also run the ball out of multiple formations.

“They do different things. They get to the running game in different ways, it’s not your traditional line up and we’re going to pound the ball,’’ said defensive lineman Shaun Ellis. “They spread you out, they mix in some runs with the passing game, so it’s definitely going to be one of those keys, the run.’’

Patient approach Devin McCourty led the Patriots with seven interceptions as a rookie last season, but he’s still looking for his first pick this year. Pressing to get one, McCourty said, is an easy way not to get one.

“I’m just going to keep playing. Those plays come,’’ said McCourty. “When you get the opportunity I think it’s more important, when you’re talking about interceptions, to bring them in, because those change the game.’’

The Patriots had 25 interceptions last season. Through two games they’ve had three, by Arrington, Sergio Brown, and Wilfork, who has the longest return at 28 yards.

Garay fined $15,000 Patriots fans probably cringed when San Diego’s Antonio Garay lunged low while trying to sack Tom Brady during the third quarter of last Sunday’s game. Garay probably cringed when he was notified that the league had fined him $15,000 for the hit, which didn’t bring a penalty flag.

Garay, who played at Boston College, dived at Brady while the quarterback was attempting to pass. In a radio interview this week, Brady credited the brace he wears on his left knee for helping prevent a serious injury, as a result of a similar play: the ligament-tearing hit he took from then-Chief Bernard Pollard in the 2008 opener that ended his season.

Looking good Based on multiple reports, Hernandez is supposed to be out 2-6 weeks after he sprained a knee ligament. But he was spotted in the locker room, walking without a brace, crutches, or even a noticeable limp. When asked how he felt, Hernandez replied, “Great.’’ . . . Receiver Stevie Johnson, who has a groin injury, practiced with the Bills yesterday. Cornerback Terrence McGee (hamstring), linebacker Kirk Morrison (hamstring), and guard Kraig Urbik (knee) did not practice . . . Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian was signed from the practice squad yesterday, with the Patriots releasing linebacker A.J. Edds and signing cornerback Josh Victorian to the practice squad. Tarpinian signed with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent in July. Victorian spent training camp with Baltimore before being released, while Edds was signed Sept. 7 after spending his rookie season last year with Miami on injured reserve.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.

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