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Jonas Gray hopes for a chance at an encore vs. Colts

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray became an overnight sensation after a 201-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11. But as fast as his fame came, it disappeared.

Gray showed up late to a practice the next week and was benched, then battled an ankle injury during the tail end of the season. He was then inactive for the Patriots’ playoff win over the Ravens.

In total, Gray has had just 20 carries following that breakout performance in Indy.

You can’t blame him for being anxious to get back out of the field against the Colts in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

“We are playing in the AFC Championship. It’s the biggest game of my life,” Gray said Friday. “I do feel fresh, the freshest I’ve felt in a long time. And I’m excited.

“Enough talking. Let’s go out and do it between the lines.”

For most, having gone from a dominant performance to being a healthy scratch can take a toll on a player’s attitude. But Gray is a team player who doesn’t put his head down.

“No there’s no frustration,” Gray said. “When the team is winning, I’m coming in every day. I’m getting better in my preparation and the little things and I’m also staying healthy. I’m excited for the opportunity to play my role whatever it is. We got a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I’m only focused on this one game.”

Gray was quick to point out that this Colts defense is different from the one he ran all over earlier in the season. The Colts have defensive tackle Arthur Jones and safety LaRon Landry back as well as an emerging edge-rusher in rookie linebacker Jonathan Newsome.

“They are playing with a lot of momentum and are playing their best football,” Gray said. “They got a few guys back in a few key areas -- Arthur Jones and LaRon Landry. This by far will be the best defense we have played all year.

“I think they are a different team. Obviously they are a top-two team in the AFC. That’s why they are here. They earned the right to be here.”