Later today, the New England Patriots will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game. The Patriots will enter the contest with one of the NFL’s best offenses, but one that faces questions as running backs Rex Burkhead (concussion) and Sony Michel (knee) were both listed as questionable on Friday’s final injury report. Also listed as questionable was offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (calf).
But while Burkhead and Michel might ultimately appear in today’s game, Cannon will not: New England downgraded him to “out” yesterday evening after he apparently suffered a setback during one of this week’s practices. Cannon has dealt with a calf injury since early August and previously missed three weeks worth of practices and the entire preseason because of the issue.
Without their starter at the right tackle position, New England will now likely turn to primary backup LaAdrian Waddle to go against Jacksonville’s talented defensive linemen. Waddle brings plenty of experience to the table but is a downgrade from Cannon: last week against the Houston Texans and All-Pro defender J.J. Watt, the starter held his ground while playing 61% of offensive snaps. Waddle, meanwhile, was more inconsistent during the 39% of snaps he was on the field for.
It would therefore not be a surprise to see the Patriots try to help Waddle with an additional blocker – think tight end Dwayne Allen – at times today.
Cannon is not the only player to get downgraded yesterday: cornerback Keion Crossen also will not play. Like Cannon, the seventh-round rookie did not travel with the team and instead remained in New England for additional treatment. Crossen, who was limited on Friday due to a hamstring injury, was a healthy scratch last week and even if healthy would have been no lock to make the 46-man game day roster.