Last Thursday brought a heartbreaking loss for New England Patriots fans who were expecting a week one win during their home opener. While the results of the game mean the team starts the season with a loss, the injuries suffered during the game could affect coming weeks.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola and middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower are two of the biggest names that were held from practice Wednesday.
— Jim McBride (@globejimmcbride) September 13, 2017
Amendola filled in for wide receiver Julian Edelman after he went on injured reserve after suffering an ACL tear in the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions. After the loss to Kansas City, quarterback Tom Brady admitted that replacing Edelman posed a major challenge to their offense.
It looked like Amendola was up to the challenge though. Before suffering a concussion and a knee injury, he pulled in six targets for 100 yards. The longest reception going for 27 yards. He immediately entered the concussion protocol and is questionable for the game against the Saints. With him missing practice on Wednesday it is safe to deduce that he is still in early stages of the protocol and is in danger of missing the game Sunday.
With Amendola out, it will be up to wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and newcomer Phillip Dorsett to fill in. Expect two tight-end sets with Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen as well as running back James White getting in on the passing game. The Patriots can’t afford to have their offense stall again like it did against the Chiefs.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 8, 2017
Hightower was held out of practice after succumbing to a minor MCL sprain on Thursday during the game. He was seen on the sidelines with ice on his knee while staying loose on a stationary bike, possibly able to come back but ultimately being held from the rest of the game.
The Patriots haven’t ruled Hightower out from participating in the coming game, and since he’s had a history with similar injuries in the past it hasn’t been unusual for them to give him extra rest during the week.
If Hightower does miss the game this weekend, there are a few options for head coach Bill Belichick to use. Between shifting the linebackers around and bringing in newly acquired players, he could use different personnel groups against the Saints offense.
Wide receiver Matthew Slater (hamstring) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee) were both also held from practice. Right tackles Marcus Cannon (ankle) and Cameron Fleming (ankle) were both limited in practice but should be ready for the weekend.
On the defensive side, lineman Adam Butler (knee), safeties Nate Ebner (shoulder) and Devin McCourty (groin) were all limited in practice.
The Saints had only two players miss practice as most of their roster is healthy. Tackles Terron Armstead (shoulder) and Zach Strief (knee) both missed the season opener in Minnesota on Monday and are expected to miss the next few games.