The New England Patriots are not at peak physical form heading into tonight’s prime time matchup against the Green Bay Packers. While only two players — offensive linemen Shaq Mason and Brian Schwenke — are definitely out for the game, 13 more are listed as questionable. While some of them are expected to be active versus Green Bay, there is apparent concern about the availability of a pair of offensive starters.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, both tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Sony Michel will be tested before tonight’s game. However, if Schefter’s report is to be believed, the outlook does not appear to be a particularly encouraging one. Gronkowski, who missed Thursday’s practice, is dealing with back and ankle injuries, while Michel is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered two weeks ago.
Both Gronkowski and Michel have missed time because of injury before today, but both being out simultaneously would mark a first this season. If both are indeed unable to go, Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister would be the next men up at tight end. With Hollister also listed as questionable, however, versatile fullback James Develin might receive additional playing time in the Patriots’ offense.
Meanwhile, Michel — after missing last week’s game in Buffalo — would likely again be replaced by a group of players: Cordarrelle Patterson, also listed as questionable on Friday’s final injury report, would be the frontrunner to serve as the early down back, with James White as the change-of-pace/receiving back. Depth running back Kenjon Barner will likely also receive some snaps, especially if Patterson is not full-go.
However, this could all change in the upcoming hours and if the Patriots deem Gronkowski and/or Michel healthy enough to play.
[UPDATE] Also according to Adam Schefter, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is expected to play tonight. Edelman popped up on the injury report this week with an ankle issue and was listed as questionable to play tonight. It now looks like he will, which would be big for a New England defense that might miss some core personnel.