Coming off their annual early September beat down, the New England Patriots (1-1) are preparing to make a statement under the lights of Ford Field where they are set to square off against the struggling Detroit Lions (0-2) on Sunday Night Football. Ex-Patriot defensive coordinator and literal rocket scientist Matt Patricia may still be searching for his first win as the head coach of the Lions but he should not be taken lightly given his familiarity with the Patriots organization.
New England Patriots
Unfortunately for Matt Patricia, no amount of familiarity will help defend against the newest Patriot wide receiver should he suit up this Sunday. Less than 24 hours after last Sunday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Patriots completed a trade with the Cleveland Browns for high profile WR Josh Gordon. The tantalizing deep threat comes with his fair share of baggage and the apparent final straw for the Browns was Gordon injuring his hamstring at a promotional photo shoot last Friday then proceeding to show up late to a team meeting the following morning. Multiple reports came out after the trade that the hamstring injury is not serious and that Gordon could suit up for the Patriots as soon as this coming Sunday.
New Patriots WR Josh Gordon is healthy enough from his strained hamstring to play Sunday vs. the Lions, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 17, 2018
Despite optimism outside the Patriots organization, WR Josh Gordon (hamstring) has been a limited participant so far in practice. Even if he does play this week against the Lions, he won’t be on the field for too many snaps seeing as it takes more than six days to learn an NFL playbook, especially an offense as complicated as the one run in Foxborough.
Speaking of all-pro offensive weapons, TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle) was added to the injury report on Thursday. He was too busy being triple teamed against the Jaguars to contribute much of anything last Sunday but did not seem to sustain any injury during the game. The oft-injured tight end wasn’t listed on the initial injury report so it’s likely that he tweaked something or felt sore after practice Wednesday afternoon. He was a limited participant Thursday.
RT Marcus Cannon (calf) is slowly making his way back from the injury he suffered week one against the Houston Texans. He has been limited the whole week after being inactive in Jacksonville. Cannon’s return to the lineup would stabilize the offensive line as swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle has struggled in his place, granted, against two of the strongest defensive lines in all of football.
Better blocking up front would be beneficial to rookie RB Sony Michel (knee) who made his NFL debut this past week. He was on a snap count, only seeing the field 12 times but he was involved in 11 of those 12 plays. Despite taking the least amount of snaps out of the three active running backs, Michel had the most touches. It’s obvious the team envisions a bright future for the kid so it’s understandable why they are moving him along so slow after a left knee procedure kept him out all of August and week one. He has been a full participant all week.
Moving on to the defensive side of the ball, versatile S Patrick Chung (concussion) and top DL Trey Flowers (concussion) have both been out all week. Both players suffered concussions in the loss to Jacksonville last weekend and their absences were noticeable. Tackling was sloppy and the remaining defensive lineman couldn’t get any pressure on the quarterback. The loss of Chung and Flowers even goes beyond physical play as Chung was voted a team captain this season and Flowers is no pushover when it comes to leadership either. If one or both of them aren’t able to go this Sunday, the Patriots defense will feel it.
If Trey Flowers is unavailable, hopefully, DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (finger) is ready to go. Wise is the next man up after Flowers and got a bump in playing time after Flowers went down but unfortunately had to leave the game himself after he dislocated his finger. The exact finger is unspecified as the trainers covered his hand in a towel before walking him off the field but he has practiced in full this entire week. Speaking from experience, fingers usually just need to be set back into place and you are good to go but Wise has been wearing a protective mitten of some kind during practice as an extra precautionary measure.
📹 At #Patriots practice today Deatrich Wise Jr. was:
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) September 19, 2018
While most people assumed CB Eric Rowe (groin) was pulled from the game last Sunday because he was burned for an easy touchdown, it’s entirely possible that he re-aggravated the same groin injury that had been bothering last year and kept him out for most of the season. He has been limited all week so maybe it’s more of a precaution than an actual issue. That’s, of course, best case scenario and worst case scenario we see an undrafted rookie corner J.C. Jackson make his NFL debut.
Wrapping up the injury report for the Patriots are core special teamer DB Nate Ebner (hip) and seventh-round rookie DB Keion Crossen (hamstring) who have both been limited all week. The hip injury is new for Ebner and the severity is unknown. Crossen is looking to make his first NFL game day roster after sitting out both weeks one and two, the first week being a healthy scratch.
Lockdown CB Darius Slay (concussion) has not participated all week and is in the same boat as Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung. It would be a big blow to Detroit’s secondary if Slay does not pass concussion protocol before the game.
Franchise tagged this past offseason, DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) has been limited all week. He did not play in the Lions week two loss to our friend Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. If Marcus Cannon is inactive, hopefully, Ziggy is too.
While listed as a corner, CB Jamal Agnew (shoulder) isn’t on the Lions roster to compliment Darius Slay. No, Agnew is a second-year all-pro punt returner. Bill Belichick loves to focus on field position and special teams so if Agnew is back returning punts it will be interesting to see how the Patriots handle it. He has been limited in practice all week.
G T.J. Lang (back) has been limited all week after sitting out week two. Lang is a Pro Bowler and the Lions are already weak in the other guard position where rookie first-rounder Frank Ragnow is struggling adjusting to the NFL level.
Like Gronk for the Pats, LB Eli Harold (hip) was just added to the injury report on Thursday. He was a limited participant. Harold was traded over by the 49ers at the beginning of the season so he hasn’t played much for Patricia’s defense but he did have a sack last week against his former team.
OL Andrew Donnal (knee) did not participate all week. Donnal missed the first two games of the season as well. He’s a back-up offensive lineman that probably wouldn’t see the field anyways.
-Nick Perfetuo is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @NickPerf33