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Patriots Notebook: Hill looks good — then leaves with knee injury

Special to the Union Leader

September 10. 2018 7:03PM
New England running back Rex Burkhead tries to escape the grasp of Houston linebacker Dylan Cole during the third quarter of Sunday's at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Jeremy Hill quickly made an impression on his new team Sunday.

And then he was gone.

The running back, signed as a free agent over the offseason, was helped off the field with a right knee injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans.

It didn’t look good.

Normally, the club’s announcement on injured players labels the potential return as “questionable.” The word Hill was “out” came quickly.

Hill, who scored 20 touchdowns for the Bengals in 2015 and ’16, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Game 7 last season.

Before going down Sunday, he had a burst in the first half, where he blocked a punt and then ran eight and 11 yards on the next two plays.

For the day, he finished with 25 yards on four carries and one catch for six yards.

Morning news

The Patriots were making news even before the game.

The NFL Network came out with two reports — one saying the Pats ensured Josh McDaniels would not leave for Indianapolis (he had accepted the head job with the Colts) with a lucrative five-year contract and the other that Rob Gronkowski put an end to any offseason trade talks by saying he would retire rather than play for another team.

The McDaniels thing wasn’t all new, but the word on Gronk answered questions arising from the big fella’s offseason roller coaster. It became no secret the Patriots were talking, even before Robert Kraft said they would trade the tight end. If this report is accurate, it explains some things.

Gronkowski eventually got a re-worked contract that will pay him up to $4.3 million in incentives this year.

Gronk didn’t want to talk about it after the game. “I was wondering why they asked me that on the field right after the game,” he said. “I was like, ‘Where’s this coming from again?’ No, I’m just glad to be here, glad to be part of this team, glad to be part of this organization — and all that talk, all that stuff, I’d love to put it all in the past, whatever it is, whatever reports keep coming out, because I’m here, I’m here to stay and I’m here to keep playing ball with the Patriots, just enjoying my time here.”

Odds and ends

Phillip Dorsett became the 69th different player to catch a Tom Brady TD pass, leaving Brady one shy of Vinny Testaverde’s mark of 70 … With Sony Michel out after recovering from a knee injury (thus not getting enough practice time) and others either on injured reserve or scratched, Ja’Whaun Bentley was the only member of this year’s draft class dressed for the opener. He started at linebacker. … TE Jacob Hollister was out injured, but DE Derrick Rivers was a bit of a surprise as an inactive. WR Riley McCarron, activated from the practice squad during the week, played some on offense and also muffed a late punt. … The Texans were missing WR Will Fuller, out with a hamstring, while CB Kevin Johnson, who had just cleared concussion protocol, left in the second half with another concussion.

Protest update: No players knelt for the national anthem — and none emerged from the locker rooms late. … The Patriots are on the road for the next two weeks, visiting Jacksonville for an NFC title rematch and then on to Detroit for a meeting with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, now the head man with the Lions. New England then has a three-game homestand.


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