FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — After a year of “Deflategate,” the New England Patriots aren’t about to let Chandler Jones’ still-unexplained trip to the hospital bother them.
“I think coach (Bill) Belichick does a great job of really just, like, brainwashing us,” defensive back Duron Harmon said on Wednesday as the Patriots prepared for their playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We just try to ignore all the distractions, whether it’s that situation or ‘Deflategate,’ or any other distraction,” he said. “We just try to ignore the noise.”
A Pro Bowl selection who was fifth in the NFL with 12 1/2 sacks, Jones was admitted to a local hospital and released later the same day on Sunday with an unspecified emergency that also involved the Foxborough police.
Jones was not available during the 45 minutes that the Patriots locker room was open to reporters before practice on Wednesday. He was seen on the field during the stretching portion of practice. The team said in a statement that he has not missed practice or any team meetings.
Asked whether the league would be investigating the incident, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski was also back at practice on Wednesday, a day after he was not there for the media portion. Gronkowski was also not available during the open locker room session.
The team listed him as having limited participation in practice — one of a dozen Patriots in that category on Wednesday’s practice report — because of a knee injury. Quarterback Tom Brady was listed as a full participant with the ankle injury he sustained in the regular-season finale against the Miami Dolphins.
Jones’ teammates declined to comment about his situation except to say they are concerned about his health.
“Chandler’s got a lot of support in this locker room,” receiver Danny Amendola said. “He’s a great football player, and I’m excited to see what he does this week.”
A few hours after beating the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship last year, the Patriots were bombarded with accusations that they had supplied improperly inflated footballs for in the game. A league investigation found it was “more probable than not” the team had an illegal scheme to deflate the footballs and that Brady was “at least generally aware” of it.
But Brady’s four-game suspension was overturned by a federal judge. The appeal is scheduled to be heard after the season.
Neither the deflated football investigation nor Brady’s looming suspension seemed to bother team, which won its first 10 games this season. And players said that whatever Jones went through on Sunday won’t distract them from their divisional playoff game against the Chiefs, either.
The Boston Herald first reported that Jones was rushed to Norwood Hospital after showing up at the Foxborough police station. The Patriots confirmed that Jones was admitted to the hospital and released the same day.
The Herald said police initially denied any interaction with Jones, then provided a report that had been edited after the newspaper requested it. The town issued a statement on Wednesday saying it was trying to balance the need for public transparency with the requirement of medical privacy.
Jones’ teammates said they will give him whatever support he needs.
“It’s a family,” Harmon said. “I care for everybody. I love everybody in this organization. We go out and play for each other.”