Lately the New England Patriots have been seeing their star players drop like Eli Manning passes in the hands of defenders, and everyone is concerned about the team’s resilience. With the two defensive captains Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo out for the rest of the year, the defense can’t really afford to lose Aqib Talib or any other defensive player or risk falling behind in the AFC. The offense has already dealt with the prolonged absence of Rob Gronkowski and the on-and-off injuries of Danny Amendola after losing him after week 1 with a groin injury and again last week with a concussion.
With the other injuries, people often forget that dynamic RB Shane Vereen is currently recovering from a broken bone in his wrist and can return week 11 after the Patriots’ bye week. Today it was reported that Vereen no longer has a hard cast on his wrist and looks to be on track for that week 11 return for that Monday night game against the Carolina Panthers. The return of Vereen will be huge for this offense since he can be utilized as as a rusher or receiver and is easily the best pass-catching running back on the Patriots roster.
The newly re-injured Danny Amendola seems unlikely to play on Sunday against the Jets since he hasn’t practiced all week. ESPN Mike Reiss tweeted this update today:
Practice update: Aqib Talib & Danny Amendola remain out, while right guard Dan Connolly returns.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 17, 2013
The Patriots have proven they can win without Amendola, so his absence is not insurmountable. The younger receivers have slowly developed and although they are not anywhere as reliable as Amendola, Brady can win with them. Julian Edelman will return to being a prominent target along with Austin Collie, who’s clutch performance late in last week’s game against the Saints helped to seal a Patriot victory. As Reiss’s tweet stated, Aqib Talib did not practice either and fans can assume he will likely miss Sunday’s game. Talib re-injured his hip, which was the injury that plagued him towards the end of last season. The Patriots will be cautious about rushing his return since he has proven to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
The return of Dan Connolly to practice is a a positive sign, since his backup, Marcus Cannon, was just added to the injury list with a shoulder injury and was limited in practice as well. In addition to Amendola and Talib, the two other players that did not practice were Leon Washington (ankle) and Tommy Kelly (knee). The loss of Washington isn’t a big deal since the Patriots have sufficient depth to replace him, but Kelly’s continued absence is worrisome. With Wilfork on IR, Kelly’s presence on the line is desperately needed until DT Armond Armstead sees some playing time. This may be sooner rather than later, but he did not practice this week.
Now, the man that everyone wants to know about: Rob Gronkowski. He was limited in practice all week, as per usual this season, but he was seen wearing a black jersey – given to players who are the practice players of the week. This may be a positive sign for his return this week, but as fans have come to expect, no one will know his playing status until the very last minute.
Will Gronk return this week? If you want to see him in person, check out New England Patriots tickets for MetLife stadium this week. The more blue and red in the building, the better.