FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Rodney Harrison is going home to be a “couch potato.” Artrell Hawkins plans to play with his kids on a beach in Florida. Heath Evans will watch his alma mater, Auburn, from the stands.

And Ellis Hobbs will stay behind to rehabilitate his surgically repaired left wrist.

The bye week is a welcome break in the daily grind for the New England Patriots. Coach Bill Belichick even gave them an extra day off for beating Miami last Sunday, providing a break from practices and playbooks Thursday through Sunday.

But Hobbs, the starting cornerback who played just 11 days after undergoing surgery, still needs to strengthen the wrist he broke Sept. 24 by hitting it against a teammates’ shoulder pad.

“I can’t go anywhere,” Hobbs said. “All I’m worried about is rehab. A lot of guys are getting out of here, catching flights out of here, whatever. But I’m just focusing on getting back 100 percent.”

It came as a surprise last season when Hobbs, a rookie drafted in the third round, became a starter in the ninth game. It was an even bigger surprise that he had eight tackles, one interception and two fumble recoveries in his starting debut against Miami.

This year’s surprise may top both of those.

Linebacker Tedy Bruschi had surgery for a broken wrist July 28 and missed the season opener Sept. 10 before playing the next week. Hobbs was listed as questionable for last Sunday’s 20-10 win over the Dolphins after breaking the same bone but took the field with a cast and made six tackles.

“I was a little surprised, being that he had an injury similar to Tedy’s, but he plays a different position,” strong safety Harrison said. “He helped us out in the game. He came back. He showed he had a heart of a warrior and he showed a lot of toughness and a lot of maturity.”

Hobbs should be in better shape when the Patriots resume play Oct. 22 at Buffalo. In his first game against the Bills in the season opener, he limited Lee Evans to two receptions in the Patriots 19-17 win.

He insists that his wrist is fine, perhaps as much to convince himself as others. Before the game against Miami he told people he didn’t want them to talk about it so he would be less likely to think about it.

But the cast, on his wrist, is another matter.

“Obviously, with a cast on (the wrist), it keeps it locked into position and you can’t grab or push, pull on things as you would want to,” Hobbs said, “but it’s there to hold it in place. But as far as the wrist goes, the wrist is fine. This (cast) is more for prevention.”

Hawkins started at free safety in place of Eugene Wilson. Both were listed as questionable on the injury report and Wilson missed the game with a hamstring injury.

Hawkins wasn’t surprised that Hobbs played.

“I kind of know his personality and he’s a hard worker,” Hawkins said. “I knew the instant he could be back out there he would and so, surprised? I wasn’t.”

Chad Scott started the game and had five tackles, but Hobbs saw plenty of action. A week earlier when Hobbs was sidelined, Scott started and made seven tackles.

Evans, a backup running back, knows what it’s like to fill in. He doesn’t play much but caught a touchdown pass against Miami.

“We have a lot of guys that have been maybe in my shoes that filled in for a while then worked their way into a solid starting position in a great lineup,” Evans said.

Hobbs holds one of those positions.

“The NFL is such a physical game you’re going to get nicks and bruises. You’re going to have guys out all the time,” Hobbs said.

His time on the sidelines didn’t last long.



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