On Sunday, the Patriots play against the statistically best defense in the entire league. For Tom Brady and the offense, going against the Jets will be the toughest test of the season. It looks as if the unit will have to do so without at least one starter, though. According to media reports, left tackle Marcus Cannon (alongside edge defenders Jabaal Sheard and Rufus Johnson) missed practice again today, while rookie guard Shaq Mason returned after being out the last two days.
Mason's return is definitely a good sign for the long term but his availability for Sunday remains in doubt - especially considering that he "doesn't look close to ready", according to Jeff Howe. The team might opt to keep the rookie, who is the starter at left guard, out against the Jets to have him ready for the subsequent Thursday night game against Miami. Fellow rookie Tre' Jackson or veteran Ryan Wendell are the prime candidates to replace him.
While there is still a chance that Mason suits up on Sunday, Marcus Cannon doing so would be a major surprise. The Patriots therefore will once again roll with Sebastian Vollmer (left) and Cameron Fleming (right) as the two starers at offensive tackle. Sheard, who is second on the team in sacks, and Johnson, meanwhile, also look like long-shots to play against New York and, like Cannon, will probably be declared "out" later today.