The 2016 NFL season is underway. The New England Patriots will enter the race for the Lombardi trophy on Sunday when they visit the Arizona Cardinals. It seems as if the team will be relatively but not fully healthy when it takes on its first opponent as today’s final injury report shows.
According to Mark Daniels, the list of reported injuries looks like this:
OG Jonathan Cooper (Foot): Questionable
DE Trey Flowers (Shoulder): Questionable
WR Chris Hogan (Shoulder): Questionable
TE Rob Gronkowski (Hamstring): Questionable
OG Shaq Mason (Hand): Questionable
LB Shea McClellin (Shoulder): Questionable
WR Malcolm Mitchell (Elbow): Questionable
OT Nate Solder (Hamstring): Questionable
The biggest name on the list is obviously Rob Gronkowski. Football’s best tight end returned to practice on Tuesday after missing the prior three weeks because of his injured hamstring. While he admitted yesterday that he was not yet 100 percent and that the coaches would need to make the decision whether he plays or not, Jeff Howe reported that he is expected to play on Sunday.
There were not such reports for the other six players listed as “questionable”. Wide receiver Chris Hogan looks like a safe bet to play against the Cardinals, though, given that he was a full practice participant all week long. However, it remains to be seen how much snaps he will actually play given a) his injury and b) Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola apparently being good to go.
From a positional standpoint, arguably the major question mark entering opening day is the offensive line. Solder is the team’s starting left tackle and the quality drop-off behind him on the depth chart is noticeable. And either Mason or Cooper were projected to start at right guard. Their respective injuries put their availability and effectivity in question, however, and might force the Patriots to turn to sixth round rookie Ted Karras.
For comparison, the Arizona Cardinals’ injury report looks as follows:
LB Kareem Martin (Knee): Out
CB Justin Bethel (Foot): Questionable
LB Lamar Louis (Knee): Questionable
RB Stepfan Taylor (Knee): Questionable
LB Alex Okafor (Biceps): Removed from the list
DT Frostee Rucker (Neck): Removed from the list