Belichick guiding Pats through maladies
Despite an uncharacteristically lackluster performance, the Patriots edged the Jets last Sunday. The reigning AFC East champions did not, however, emerge from MetLife Stadium unscathed.
Several of Bill Belichick’s stars suffered fairly significant injuries in the 22-17 win, putting the team in a more vulnerable position entering this afternoon’s matchup against Los Angeles. Undoubtedly, tight end Rob Gronkowski absorbed the biggest blow. The perennial Pro Bowl underwent surgery earlier in the week to repair a herniated disk in his back. New England subsequently placed him on season-ending IR.
Gronkowski’s replacement isn’t exactly the picture of health, either. Hindered by ankle and shoulder ailments, veteran Martellus Bennett should be available to work the middle of the field in Foxborough nonetheless. The same applies for wideout Julian Edelman (foot).
As for the man who orchestrates the Pats’ entire attack, Tom Brady (knee) officially carries a questionable tag. Given the Rams’ fierce front four, look for the four-time Super Bowl champion’s mobility to come under fire. Perhaps tailbacks Dion Lewis, James White and LeGarrette Blount are in line for a busier-than-usual contest.
Staying in the backfield, Philadelphia’s Ryan Mathews will sit out vs. Cincinnati. An MCL sprain also forced him to miss the Eagles’ recent defeat at the hands of Green Bay. In Mathews’ absence, expect Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood to split carries.
Down in New Orleans, Mark Ingram’s been immersed in a timeshare for nearly a month. Considering the Alabama product’s iffy toe, that probably won’t change against Detroit. Tim Hightower, who’s coming off a 105-yard outing, appears likely to receive an even bigger boost in value.
Sliding under center, Aaron Rodgers has taken very few reps in preparation for Green Bay’s meeting with Houston. Still, he’s a no-brainer to combat Jadeveon Clowney & Co. Indianapolis fans feel similarly optimistic regarding Andrew Luck. Having cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol, he’ll return to the fray tomorrow evening.