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Injuries continue to dog Patriots

FOXBOROUGH — Danny Amendola and Dont’a Hightower both left Sunday’s 33-16 win over the Tennessee Titans with knee injuries.

It’s the second time this season the speedy receiver and rugged linebacker have left midgame because of knee issues.

Amendola exited the win over Buffalo on Nov. 23 with a sprained knee and missed the ensuing game against the Broncos. He returned against the Eagles.

Hightower left the Broncos game early with a sprained MCL and missed the Eagles and Texans games before returning Sunday. He missed the Colts game earlier this year after injuring his shoulder against the Cowboys.

Hightower left Sunday’s win late in the third quarter. He limped to the sideline, where he fired his helmet and was attended to briefly by the medical staff — and Tom Brady — before slowly making his way to the locker room. He returned to the sideline midway through the fourth quarter but never returned to action.

Hightower was spotted in the locker room postgame with a wrap on his knee but without a noticeable limp.


Amendola left Sunday after a 22-yard punt return on which he was not tackled, instead running out of bounds. He immediately began flexing his legs and was walking around the sideline gingerly.

The Patriots announced early in the second half that Amendola was questionable to return but he left for the locker room shortly after the half began. They later updated his status to out. He was not spotted after the game.

Additionally, safety Patrick Chung injured his hip in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. He tried to jog off the field after being attended to, but immediately slowed down. He was walking slowly in the locker room after the game.

Gronk honors friend

Rob Gronkowski missed practice Friday while grieving the loss of his friend Dana Parenteau. He returned to action Sunday and said he was playing in memory of Parenteau.


“My good friend loved the game of football, loved being at all my games, always had my back,’’ said Gronkowski, who had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. “I definitely dedicate that touchdown to him. I pointed up. I know he was up there watching.’’

Gronkowski said it wasn’t that difficult to prepare for the game under the circumstances, because he was honoring Parenteau.

“I know he would want me to go out there and whoop some booty, which we did as a team,’’ he said. “He’s pumping me up before the games and loves seeing me go out there and ball. That’s what we did today and I know he’s up there and he’s proud.’’

Mariota exits early

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota left in the second quarter after suffering a knee injury on Chandler Jones’s strip sack early in the second quarter.

Mariota may have been injured trying to tackle Akiem Hicks, who recovered the fumble. Mariota played two more series before being replaced by Zach Mettenberger.

“I felt pressure and I tried my best to get away from it and I just got twisted up kind of awkwardly,’’ Mariota said. “I wanted to go out there and play with the guys, but Zach is more than capable of taking over the team. Me not playing at 100 percent would have hurt us and I think Zach gave us a better chance.’’

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he didn’t think the injury was “serious . . . [but] the best thing is to hold him [out].’’


Brady illness? No problem

Patriots president Jonathan Kraft allayed fears that the illness that kept Brady out of Friday’s practice was anything to worry about.

Asked pregame if he feared it was anything similar to the ailments that sidelined Jamie Collins, Ryan Wendell, and Rufus Johnson for lengthy stretches, Kraft said, “If it was something really serious, I would have known about it. I don’t think so.’’

Brady said he “felt ready to go’’ when asked if he was 100 percent at game time.

Kraft also touched on the subject of the Globe’s story on Brady’s personal fitness guru and business partner Alex Guerrero, and if there’s friction between Guerrero and the Patriots medical staff.

“There’s no tension I’ve ever witnessed or been a part of. There’s a lot of people on the fitness/healthcare/wellness of this team. There’s a ton of people, and I think they all work together really well,’’ Kraft said. “Any time something becomes interesting to the media, people start to dig. I don’t know of any tension, and haven’t seen any. Tom Brady at 38, I know it’s fashionable to go back and forth on Alex Guerrero, but Tom Brady is playing the game at 38 better than any 38-year-old quarterback has ever played the game.’’

Classic preparations begin

The Patriots finally played a home game in weather that felt like winter and appropriately enough, the NHL folks were on hand Sunday and immediately began transforming Gillette Stadium into a hockey venue after the final whistle. The goalposts were removed, the logo for the Winter Classic, pitting the Bruins vs. the Canadiens on New Year’s Day, was on the big scoreboards, and rink measurements were being taken . . . The Patriots earned their 12th win for the sixth straight season. Only the Colts’ run of seven (2003-09) is longer in league history . . . The Patriots’ run defense was immense, holding the Titans to a 2.8-yard average on 21 totes . . . In addition to Joey Iosefa (14 rushes, 51 yards), receiver Leonard Hankerson made his Patriots debut. He played a lot of snaps, mostly in the second half after Amendola’s departure, but was not targeted . . . Lots of big names on the inactive list for the Patriots, including receiver Julian Edelman (foot), safety Devin McCourty (ankle), center Bryan Stork, tight end Scott Chandler (knee), linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hand), offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, and defensive tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen. Stork missed Friday’s practice with a non-injury-related issue. Asked about Stork’s absence Sunday, coach Bill Belichick said, “It was a coaching decision.’’ . . . Receiver Damaris Johnson, who was cut by the Patriots last week and signed by Titans, was the most notable name on Tennessee’s inactive list.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.