The Patriots made a couple of minor
transactions earlier this week, re-signing TE Dan Gronkowski, who had
recently been released, and releasing OL Thomas Welch.
From a personnel standpoint, neither move should
have a major impact on Sunday's game against the Cowboys. By releasing
Welch, it suggests OL Sebastian Vollmer's back injury isn't as serious
as the team initially thought. Welch was signed to the practice squad.
As for Gronkowski, he's more of an insurance
policy now that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are both healthy.
The team also places Mike Wright on Injured reerve, and signed DT
Marcus Harrison. Wright's departure hurts the team's chances to improve
their pass rush, though adding Harrison should help with depth along
the line. Wright hasn't been able to play since re-injuring himself in
the game against the Dolphins.
--DL Albert Haynesworth is still limited in
practice due to a back injury, and he probably will be a game-time
decision Sunday afternoon.
--CB Leigh Bodden is limited in practice due to a
chest injury, but he should be ready to play against the Cowboys.
--DL Kyle Love was limited in Thursday's practice
after participating for the entire session Wednesday. Love is listed
with a back injury.
--OL Sebastian Vollmer was limited in practice
Thursday due to a back injury, though it appears his lack of
participation is more precautionary at this point, which means he
should be ready for Sunday.
--CB Ras-I Dowling is suffering from a hip injury
that has limited his participation in practice this week. He'll likely
be a game-time decision Sunday.
--DB Phillip Adams, waived by the Patriots on
Monday, re-signed with the team Thursday when New England placed DL
Mike Wright on injured reserve. Adams was active for two games earlier
this season. He was released again on Friday when Marcus Harrison was
GAME PLAN: This will be another
strong test for the Patriots' secondary. Although the Cowboys are
struggling at 2-2, they still rank among the league leaders in passing.
Wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are big
targets, so this will be a big challenge for New England's shorter
cornerbacks. Quarterback Tony Romo will most certainly try to air it
out early and often, which is what most teams have tried to do against
Offensively, expect to see the Patriots continue
with their balanced attack. They've been fairly even in each of the
past two weeks, and it's made a difference in terms of turnovers and
points scored; the Patriots have been careful with the ball because
they've been less predictable. That needs to continue.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Patriots CB Leigh Bodden. The job is never
easy for Bodden, and this week is no exception. Bryant tends to get off
to fast starts and then disappears down the stretch, but sometimes
those two touchdowns he catches early on can make the difference.
Bodden needs to be on his toes early.
Patriots S Patrick Chung vs. Cowboys TE Jason Witten. Chung is always in the position where he must make a dent
against an opposing tight end, and Witten is as good as it gets. This
will be tough test for Chung. Witten is dangerous over the middle and
even more dangerous in the red zone. His ability to get open makes Tony
Romo that much more dangerous.
--OG Kyle Kosier was limited in practice for the
second straight day with a foot injury. He is expected to play against
--K David Buehler was again limited in practice
with a groin injury and is likely to miss his third straight game as
the kickoff specialist.
--RB Felix Jones has been impressive so far as the
team's primary runner. It's his first time handling the role dating
back to high school. He has answered some questions about his
durability and toughness by playing the last two games with a
--FB Tony Fiammetta did not practice Thursday with
a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Lions game before the bye.
He is expected to miss his second straight game on Sunday.
The Cowboys will need to spread the ball around and score because this
will likely be a track meet considering that the Patriots have scored
30 or more points in 13 straight games. The key for QB Tony Romo is to
take care of the football and not turn it over. But he must make plays
down the field to keep up with Tom Brady. Defensively, the Cowboys must
pressure Brady and hopefully force some turnovers. LBs DeMarcus Ware
and Anthony Spencer must spend a lot of time in the Patriots backfield.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick vs. Patriots
receiver Wes Welker -- Scandrick is the team's nickel cornerback who
usually handles the slot receiver. He will be getting not just any slot
receiver, he will be getting Welker, who is on pace to set NFL records
for yards and catches in a season.
Welker doesn't just run the short and horizontal
routes anymore. He has been going vertical this season and is tough to
tackle. Scandrick will be playing for the first time since suffering a
sprained ankle in the season opener.
Cowboys WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant vs. the
Patriots secondary --
Austin and Bryant are finally healthy again and will be playing
together for the first time since the season opener. Both are game
breakers who are tough after the catch and who both can go deep. The
Patriots have the league's worst pass defense, giving up 326 yards per
game through the air. So there are plays out there to be made by the
Reports courtesy of the Sports Xchange, combined with updates from the staff at PatriotsInsider.com
For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter:
Or find us on Facebook:
Patriots - Cowboys: Game Plans & Matchups
Patriots Insider Top Stories
Watch: Garoppolo Scrambles For 1st DownNew England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo scrambles for 10 yards and a first down against the Arizona Cardinals.
Patriots Postgame Press ConferenceNew England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and QB Jimmy Garoppolo speak with the media following their 23-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season…
Week One: Patriots vs. Cardinals HighlightsThe New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals square off in Week One of NFL action.
Rex Ryan Calls Out Bill BelichickRex Ryan wasted no time in calling out the Patriots coach ahead of their Week Four showdown.
Patriots Insider6:20 AM
Watch: Jamie Collins Intercepts OsweilerNew England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins intercepts Houston Texans QB Brock Osweiler.
Patriots InsiderYesterday at 8:37 AM