Even before the 2023 season began, we knew the matchup between the Patriots and the Cowboys was going to be a tough game.
But it just got a little more challenging for New England, as they announced that two key starters would not be making the trip to Dallas.
Jonathan Jones and Cole Strange were downgraded to out before Sunday's game, which is a massive setback for the Patriots as they hope to leave Texas with their second win of the season. Although neither is necessarily a surprise, there was some optimism that we would see their returns to the field as soon as this week, and now it's clear that won't be the case.
Jones is set to miss his third straight game as he continues to nurse an ankle injury. There haven't been many updates regarding his status and how he is rehabbing. Still, he was able to participate in practice leading up to Sunday's game in a limited capacity, which is certainly a good sign.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get the cornerback back on the game-day roster. It will be up to Christian Gonzalez mainly to continue filling the void, even more so since Marcus Jones was placed on injured reserve last week.
Strange has also been battling a nagging knee injury that kept him out of most summer practices. This will be the second missed game for him this season, forcing the Patriots to make more adjustments to an already inconsistent offensive line.
It will be their fourth straight game with a shuffled lineup on the o-line, not something that usually reaps the benefits on game day.
With so much pressure to perform and get the win against a formidable team to enter the second month of the season above .500, having two key starters absent will make it all the more challenging, especially on the offensive line.
Hopefully, Mac Jones and the rest of the offense can overcome any woes the linemen may cause and showcase more of what he saw in the second half of the game against the Eagles. But do more to actually get the win, of course.