After being off the last two days, the New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium today to start on-field preparation for their upcoming game against the Los Angeles Rams. The session was held in rainy conditions, while the team was wearing shells.
It also was without some of its most important players, as quarterback Tom Brady, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennet, and wide receiver Julian Edelman all were absent today. A look at the injury report shows why:
TE Martellus Bennett (Ankle/Shoulder): Did not participate
QB Tom Brady (Knee): Did not participate
SS Nate Ebner (Concussion): Did not participate
WR Julian Edelman (Foot): Did not participate
TE Rob Gronkowski (Back): Did not participate
SS Jordan Richards (Knee): Did not participate
WR Chris Hogan (Back): Limited participation
WR Matthew Slater (Foot): Limited participation
As they did the last two weeks, the Patriots moved Tom Brady’s media availability from Wednesday to Friday – an early indicator that he might miss practice time. Indeed he did, at least today, as the team kept him out because of his knee injury. On Monday, the future Hall of Famer told WEEI that he already felt better than last week so his absence likely has more to do with additional rest than any re-aggravation of the injury.
Rob Gronkowski’s absence is also not that big of a surprise. After all, the NFL’s best tight end left Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a back injury. Having already dealt with a chest issue entering the contest, the team plays it smart to keep him out of harm’s way – even if it is only practice. While he could return in the upcoming days and play on Sunday, don’t be surprised if Gronkowski sits out the game against the Rams.
Could the same also be true for Martellus Bennett? Tough to tell after a practice session which started with New England’s number two tight end exclusively on a stationary bike. He did finish Sunday’s game, though, which is at least a good sign for his long-term availability.
While Bennett was at least spotted during the 15-minute media portion of today’s practice, Julian Edelman was not. New England’s number one wide receiver did not suffer any reported injury on Sunday, so him being a no-show at today’s practice is noteworthy. It is likely that the team simply plays it safe with his foot injury that has plagued him all year long but it is nevertheless something to keep an eye on.
The same has to be said about core special teamer Nate Ebner, who is dealing with what has been reported as a concussion. With fellow special teamers Matthew Slater and Jordan Richards limited and absent, respectively, New England’s kicking game misses three of its members – two of them vital to the operation. Still, Slater’s return is definitely a good sign after he was spotted in a walking boot following the Patriots’ week 11 game in San Francisco.
The Patriots’ injury list is rather long – but so is the Rams’:
WR Tavon Austin (Chest): Did not participate
OC Tim Barnes (Foot): Did not participate
OT Andrew Donnal (Hip): Did not participate
OG Rodger Saffold (Hand): Did not participate
DE Robert Quinn (Concussion): Did not participate