With the bye week in the rearview mirror, the New England Patriots are already deep into their preparation for Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans. After returning from their weekend off yesterday, the team held another practice session today.
And as has been the case all year long, the Patriots had good practice participation. Only one player was absent today as a look at the injury report – the first one of the week – shows:
Did not participate
RB LeGarrette Blount (illness)
For the first time since week 6, when he was limited with a hip injury, Blount pops up on the injury report again. New England’s leading rusher was unable to practice do to an illness. He was reportedly in the building, but the coaching staff clearly doesn’t want him affecting other players.
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
Mitchell was the lone player limited, which makes the potential return of WR Danny Amendola all the more important. Mitchell is the Patriots leading red zone target this season and ranks 6th on the team with 401 receiving yards.
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
QB Tom Brady (thigh)
CB Cyrus Jones (knee)
WR Matthew Slater (foot)
Amendola is back at practice and is a full participant, which is a great sign for his potential contributions on Saturday. Brady, Jones, and Slater appear to be healthy as well. The Patriots seem to be incredibly fortunate with their health heading into the postseason and all the gameday inactives will likely be healthy scratches.
DT Alan Branch returned to practice and was not listed on the injury report, which implies that his absence had nothing to do with his physical health. [UPDATE] As Jeff Howe reports, Branch missed the last two practice sessions because of private reasons:
Alan Branch missed the previous two practices because his wife gave birth to their son.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 11, 2017
TE Martellus Bennett and LB Dont’a Hightower were also removed from the injury report.
The Texans injury report was far more troubling.
A whopping eight players were limited, including seven starters: OG Jeff Allen, WR DeAndre Hopkins, DE Jadeveon Clowney, LB Brian Cushing, LB Whitney Mercilus, CB Jonathan Joseph, and S Quintin Demps, along with LB John Simon.
Six additional players were listed on the report, but were full participants: CB A.J. Bouye, RT Chris Clark, TE Ryan Griffin, S Andre Hal, LB Brian Peters, and QB Tom Savage.