The New England Patriots already downtrodden defense could be short-handed in a pivotal AFC East matchup Sunday night against the New York Jets. For the second day in a row, safety Patrick Chung and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher did not participate in practice. Should any or all of these players not participate in tomorrow’s practice, the chances of playing Sunday are slim-to-none. Therefore, tomorrow’s injury report will be much anticipated. The loss of Spikes or Chung would hurt the defense; the loss of both players could be a death blow.
Both players play key roles in the defense.
Brandon Spikes took the role of playcaller on the field when Jerod Mayo went down with a knee injury and helped stabilize what could have been a volatile situation at linebacker without Mayo. Spikes is the best run-stuffing linebacker on the team, someone who would be key in stopping Shonn Greene and the Jets’ revitalized running game. While he’s not the best in pass coverage, he has been improving in that area. He has also been able to generate some pressure when called upon in blitz packages.
Safety Patrick Chung has been the best player in a shaky secondary. As bad as the depth is at corner, it’s even worse at safety, made worse with Josh Barrett being placed on injured reserve. Chung wasn’t on the field at the end of the Giants game when Sergio Brown, playing in his place, was flagged for a pivotal pass interference penalty. If Chung doesn’t play, the Pats have two true safeties left: Brown, and James Ihedigbo. Sterling Moore, recently called up from the practice squad, is a corner who could play at safety if needed. It’s scary to think of what the safety position would look like on the field for a full game without Chung.
Pats fans should keep their fingers crossed that these players are able to practice tomorrow and play on Sunday night, or it could be a loooooong night.