Pats DL Myron Pryor (back) doubtful

Updated: January 14, 2011, 5:28 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots reserve defensive lineman Myron Pryor, who projected to be part of a rotation in Sunday's playoff game against the New York Jets, is listed as doubtful with a back injury.

Pryor's status highlights how the Patriots are thin along the defensive line, as Ron Brace (starter against the Jets on Dec. 6) and Mike Wright (out with injury since Nov. 21) were both placed on season-ending injured reserve last week.

With Pryor unlikely to play, the Patriots project to have Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren and Kyle Love as their starters in the 3-4 alignment, with Brandon Deaderick, Landon Cohen (signed Dec. 22) and Eric Moore (signed Dec. 3) the backups.

If Love does start, that is a big spot for the rookie free agent who has appeared in nine games this season (one start).

Moore is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, and five others are questionable as well: outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (groin), receiver Deion Branch (knee), outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (calf), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (shin) and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez (hip),

Hernandez, who missed the final two regular-season games with a hip injury, said he will be ready for action Sunday against the Jets.

"It's been great. It's feeling good. I've had a good week of practice and I'm ready to go," he told reporters Friday.

Hernandez was asked the challenges he faces after missing two games.

"Mindset, to get back focused," he said. "When you're laid-back and not around everyone, you forget about the intensity and focus, being locked in play-to-play. Coming back in, I just knew I had to be locked in. I had a good week of practice being locked in, learning the plays, getting the plays back in my mind, and now I feel comfortable."

Hernandez has nine catches for 152 yards in two games against the Jets this year.

Back in the fold for the Patriots is rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes, who starts in the 3-4 alignment in a run-stopping role. He has made strides in his return from an NFL-imposed four-game suspension.

"I think it's gotten a little better," coach Bill Belichick said Friday morning.

Earlier this week, Belichick said that Spikes looked like a player who hadn't practiced in four weeks, leading some to question how much of an impact Spikes might make in Sunday's game.

Belichick elaborated on Spikes on Friday morning.

"There was a period of time there where he really didn't do anything at all, at least football-related," he said. "No matter how much you want to run around the track, do sit-ups and all that, it's not the same as being out there with 21 other guys playing football. There is no way to simulate that, other than to actually get out there and do it. I think those are the kind of things that the more you do it, the more [effective you are at it]."

The Patriots used Friday as a review day as they wrap up their preparation for the Jets.

"I think we've had a good week of preparation," Belichick said.

The Patriots have actually had two weeks, a result of earning the No. 1 playoff seed and a first-round bye. In the locker room Friday, offensive players talked about how coaches have thrown a lot at the team this week, which reflects the variety of the Jets' defensive schemes.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com. Mike Rodak contributed to this report.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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