The New England Patriots are coming off their bye week and preparing to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at 8:30 PM ET. The Patirots will not have an injury report until Wednesday, but there were some missing pieces at Tuesday’s practice.
According to multiple reports, DT Malcom Brown, OT Marcus Cannon, WR Chris Hogan, LB Shea McClellin, and OT Nate Solder were all absent. All five are incredibly important pieces of the Patriots roster. LB Dont’a Hightower was also absent, but that is not a surprise.
Brown suffered an ankle injury against the Atlanta Falcons and he has not practiced since. Hogan is expected to miss some more time and Phillip Dorsett should have a larger role in his absence.
Missing two starting tackles against the Denver Broncos is a bold strategy. Cannon is dealing with an ankle injury, while it’s unknown why Solder was not present. The Globe’s Nora Princiotti notes that Solder “often gets a personal day” on Tuesday.
McClellin’s absence is curious, too. Hopefully he’s close to a return to take Hightower’s roster spot.
Apparently, whatever held kicker Stephen Gostkowski out of last week’s practice is no longer a concern.
ProJo’s Mark Daniels also reports that there are three new faces at practice:
Looks like OT Andrew Jelks is practicing off of the NFI list. Two new DTs are also here - No. 94 and 96. More roster moves coming— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) November 7, 2017
Rookie OT Andrew Jelks returned from the non-football injury list. Jelks missed his final two seasons of college football due to injuries, but the Patriots decided to take a chance with his potential. Jelks probably won’t have an impact this year and could participate in practice to give the Patriots coaches some film to evaluate.
The two new defensive tackles are worth monitoring. One is Ricky Jean-Francois, a 9-year veteran from the 49ers and Colts, which implies that Malcom Brown might not be able to return this week. Francois could take the roster spot vacated by placing Dont’a Hightower on the injured reserve.
The Patriots had an open practice squad spot after the Houston Texans signed Angelo Blackson, and that opening will likely go to the other defensive tackle at practice. We’ll provide an update when the other identity is known.
Edit: The Patriots brought DT Mike Purcell back to the practice squad.