The New England Patriots had a busy day as they traded veteran guard Josh Kline to the Philadelpia Eagles for a defensive back, added two players to the practice squad, and returned some friendly faces back to the practice field.
Rob Gronkowski and Barkevious Mingo both returned to Patriots practice this afternoon.— Chris Mason (@Chris_J_Mason) September 6, 2016
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski returns to the field after missing some time with a lower body injury, while linebacker Barkevious Mingo is back after missing time due to an unknown reason.
Gronkowski’s availability for the opener against the Cardinals is of the utmost importance if back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is going to lead any sustained drives for scores.
It’s also important for Mingo to practice since he’s just joined the team.
A few other players were on the field, despite their injuries.
Malcolm Mitchell (left elbow) has a big arm brace, similar to what Rob Gronkowski wears pic.twitter.com/aG9Y4Pln9E— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) September 6, 2016
Shaq Mason had a good-sized cast on the injured hand.— Chris Mason (@Chris_J_Mason) September 6, 2016
Rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell looks close to a return and he is vital to the team due to the shallow depth at the position. He suffered an elbow injury early in the preseason and he, along with veteran Danny Amendola, look to participate in week 1 of the season.
Shaq Mason looks to be the starting right guard with Kline no longer on the roster. However, it’s far more difficult for an offensive lineman to play with a club hand than it is for a defender, so keep an eye out for Jonathan Cooper or rookie Ted Karras.
Following Josh Kline's departure, Joe Thuney and Ted Karras were both wearing snapping shorts along with starting center David Andrews.— Chris Mason (@Chris_J_Mason) September 6, 2016
Kline was also the second string center, so the Patriots need to improve the versatility of their interior line. Karras is likely now the back-up at center, while Joe Thuney should only move away from the left guard position in an emergency with both David Andrews and Karras unavailable.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss has also reported new jersey numbers for the practice squad:
Practice squad jersey numbers for new additions: WR Devin Street (17), RB Bishop Sankey (25), OT Clay DeBord (72), CB Mike Hilton (35).— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 6, 2016