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Patriots’ other tight end ready for NFL’s big dance

Fri., Feb. 3, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – Move over, salsa-specialist Victor Cruz. Aaron Hernandez may need room to show his merengue moves in the end zone.

The dueling dancers are practicing the steps they hope will lead to touchdowns at the Super Bowl and give the NFL showcase the look of a hard-hitting episode of Dancing With the (Football) Stars.

The versatile Hernandez has twisted his way downfield for the New England Patriots – changing direction after making catches and swerving by frustrated pursuers on a 43-yard run playoff run from the backfield against Denver. Now he’s heard suggestions that he break out the salsa should he score a touchdown on Sunday, just as Cruz does with the New York Giants.

“They told me to do the salsa and I was joking around, saying maybe I’ll do the merengue,” a smiling Hernandez said Thursday, three days before the Super Bowl. “But that’s his style and I respect him doing that and that’s also a shoutout to the Hispanic community.

“But he’s a good player and, hopefully, he doesn’t get too many salsa dances this week.”

Cruz sidesteps the idea of a Sunday Night Fever dance-off with Hernandez.

“I just want to get in the end zone and win this football game,” he said.

Hernandez is used to playing second fiddle as “the other” tight end in the Patriots’ dynamic combo.

Rob Gronkowski’s left ankle has been in the spotlight ever since the All-Pro sprained it Jan. 22 in the AFC championship game. Before that, Gronkowski’s big hands that rarely drop a football drew the attention. He set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with 17 touchdown catches, usually followed by a powerful spike.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine” for the game, Hernandez said. “Everyone knows he’s a beast and he’ll definitely be a huge impact in this game.”

Hernandez, faster and shiftier than the bulldozing Gronkowski, had a pretty good season, too. He caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns.

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