Despite some small issues here and there, the Patriots have been relatively healthy throughout the 2018 season. They have one more game before their week 11 bye and are in a decent position to be back to full health after the break.
– Trent Brown is the only Patriot to not have practiced over the past two days for New England. This probably isn’t anything serious; if it was a longterm illness then it likely would have been reported already. Depending on how Brown recovers over the next few days, he may still play on Sunday. If he needs the time off, then Marcus Cannon and LaAdrian Waddle will have tackle duties come Sunday.
– Shaq Mason was a limited participant at practice over the past two days with a calf injury. This same issue kept him out of the game on Sunday against Green Bay. It doesn’t seem to be significant, but the team may consider sitting him this week as well to give him extra rest time. Ted Karras performed well against the Packers, so New England may start him again to preserve Mason’s health for the home stretch of the season.
– Dont’a Hightower and Julian Edelman had limited participation in practice as well this week. They are dealing with a knee injury and ankle injury respectively. Hightower missed the team’s week eight matchup with Buffalo due to his knee problems. His chronic knee issues are always something to keep an eye on, and he is another potential candidate to get Sunday off. Giving him two straight weeks of rest will be critical to keeping him healthy for the playoffs. This is the second week in a row that Edelman has been a limited participant with an ankle designation. His performance on Sunday against the Packers makes it clear that this isn’t a real big issue.
– Sony Michel missed the previous two games for the Patriots after injuring his knee against the Bears. The team labeled him as a limited participant in practice both last week and this week. Keeping Michel healthy could have major ramifications for the success of the Patriots offense in the second half of this season. Cordarrelle Patterson has performed admirably as a running back, but the team would really benefit from having a traditional halfback taking handoffs. Reports indicate that Michel will play on Sunday, but that may change as we get closer to game time. Sitting the rookie may not be the worst thing, because it would give him a full month off to recover and get back to full health. He would have fresh legs for the second half, which is a time when most rookies tail off because of the exhaustion of the long NFL season.
– Rob Gronkowski missed Sunday’s game against the Packers because of both knee and back issues. He was a limited participant over the last two days with the same injury designation. It is entirely up in the air whether he will or will not play on Sunday. It is probably more likely that he will not take the field Sunday. He is one of the team’s best weapons, and the Patriots will need him to challenge the other AFC heavyweights. The Titans are certainly a formidable opponent, with the best scoring defense in the NFL. However, the Patriots are still favored to win, even if Gronk does not play. Keeping him sidelined and giving him more time to recover may be beneficial for his longterm health. It would also be pretty helpful to the Patriots success too.
– On a final note, Rex Burkhead was spotted at practice again this week. This means that he is likely going to be pulled off injured reserve sometime over the next few weeks. This would be a huge boost for the Patriots back depth. Unfortunately, it also confirms fears that Ja’Whaun Bentley will be out for the remainder of the 2018 season. Teams are allowed to pull two players off of injured reserve, and those spots will be used up by Duke Dawson and Burkhead.