FOXBOROUGH — While the Patriots have never lost an AFC Championship at home, safety Devin McCourty said he doesn’t expect it will give New England an extra edge Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium.
“I don’t care where you play, it’s not going to change how one team comes out,’’ McCourty said on Thursday. “Just because you’re at home, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be more prepared than the team that’s on the road. I think the team we’re playing now has shown that they’ve won a lot of road playoff games over the last couple of years.’’
The Ravens are the only team in the NFL to reach the playoffs each of the last five seasons. They own the second-best playoff winning percentage (12-7, .632) in league history.
They are 8-5 on the road in postseason play, which ranks as the top road
winning percentage (.615) in history (minimum 10 games).
No win was bigger, however, than last Sunday’s 38-35 decision in double overtime over the top-seeded Broncos in Denver.
“I don’t think the home-field advantage will really be that much of a difference, as far as ‘Since we’re at home, we’re going to win,’ ’’ McCourty said. “But as a player, you always love playing in front of your fans.’’
Gronkowski on IR
The Patriots placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve, opening a spot on the 53-man roster.
Gronkowski, who missed six weeks after initially fracturing his left forearm Nov. 18 against the Colts, broke his forearm again in the first quarter of last Sunday’s 41-28 victory over the Texans.
Defensive end Chandler Jones, who injured his ankle against the Texans, was the only player listed on the Patriots’ injury report as being limited for Thursday’s practice.
Marquice Cole (finger),
Nick McDonald (shoulder),
Trevor Scott (knee), and
Danny Woodhead (thumb) went from being limited Wednesday to full participation.
They go way back
McCourty and Ravens running back
Ray Rice were in the same recruiting class at Rutgers.
“We came in together, so we’re pretty good friends,’’ McCourty said. “We hang out a little bit in the offseason. There are a bunch of us that went to school together and came in at the same time at Rutgers and won a lot of games there.
“The biggest thing, I think, is that none of that will matter Sunday.’’
McCourty said the former college teammates will put their school ties on hold in an attempt to earn a Super Bowl berth.
“We’ll be going at it just like every other time we’ve played in the NFL,’’ McCourty said.
Asked what one thing stood out about Rice when they played together in college, McCourty was quick to reply, “His balance.’’
“I think it still shows in the NFL,’’ he added. “Just maybe because he is so small, he has great balance and leg strength that allows him to break a lot of tackles.’’
Jones hoped the ankle he tweaked would not prevent him from playing against his older brother, Arthur, a defensive end with the Ravens. Chandler and Arthur grew up in Endicott, N.Y., and played together at Syracuse in 2009.
Now they’ll be on the opposite sides for the first time, playing in front of family members.
“It’s fortunate that I have the opportunity to play against my brother,’’ Chandler Jones said. “But it all boils down to us trying to win and achieve that goal.
“I’m doing everything I can to be out there and to play against the Ravens.’’
Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, whose absence from Wednesday’s practice was listed by the team as “not injury-related,’’ returned to practice and was removed from the injury report.
Dennard had been in Lancaster County, Neb., for a court appearance stemming from his April 21, 2012, arrest outside of a bar, days before he was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the draft. Dennard had a court date set for Feb. 11.
Dennard was charged with a third-degree felony assault of a police officer, a resisting arrest misdemeanor, and a third-degree misdemeanor assault. He allegedly pushed and punched an officer in the head and had to be restrained by four officers when taken into custody.
The felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine, while the misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence and/or $1,000 fine.
Try, try again
Linebacker Brandon Spikes called his play in the Sept. 23 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore “my worst game of the season.’’ Overhearing Spikes’s lament from his locker,
Jerod Mayo chimed in by bellowing, “True!’’ which caused Spikes to crack up in laughter. “I went back and watched the game,’’ Spikes said. “It wasn’t the Brandon Spikes that I know, so I definitely want to come out and capitalize off a game like that and get whatever edge I can get to do better.’’ . . . After going to only one bowl game in four years at Colorado, left tackle Nate Solder will be playing his fifth playoff game, and making his second appearance in the AFC Championship game, in two NFL seasons. “It’s what I have always wished for, that I could have done it in college,’’ Solder said. “Now that I have this opportunity I feel blessed and it’s amazing.’’ . . . The Patriots announced that
Matt Light and
will serve as honorary game captains for Sunday’s game.