Patriots Injury Updates / Quick Hits

It's difficult to say that injuries have not affected the Patriots, but they have been hammered by them and have had players step up and fill in. Certainly New England is scheming more than it would like to cover up its weaknesses, but it is getting the job done.

Rookies Ty Warren, Dan Klecko, Asante Samuel and Eugene Wilson have filled in more than capably on defense along with inexperienced players like Matt Chatham and Jarvis Green. Mike Vrabel could return, but whereas two weeks ago the Patriots would be clamoring for his presence, now one has to wonder if Chatham at 100 percent is better than a wounded Vrabel.

On the offensive side, right tackle Tom Ashworth and rookie Dan Koppen have played solid football on the offensive line, but face a different challenge this week on the road against an aggressive defense that thrives on the energy its home crowd provides. Sunday will be the next step in their maturation process.

--If Deion Branch is unable to go, either David Givens or Bethel Johnson will step in and neither is proven. Either represents a significant dropoff as the third receiver behind Troy Brown and a hobbled David Patten. New England may not have the offensive weapons to match up against this defense and will need some big defensive plays to win.

--Only one of the four Patriots on PUP officially started practicing this week. Rookie linebacker Tully Banta-Cain started his 21-day practice window on Wednesday and can be activated to the 53-man roster at any point between now and the completion of the 21-day period, which would be Nov. 4. Guard Stephen Neal, wide receiver Chas Gessner and right tackle Kenyatta Jones did not start practicing yet. The Patriots would have to make a roster move to add any of the PUP players to the roster since the team is currently at the 53-man limit.

--LB Ted Johnson is out with a broken foot.

--NT Ted Washington is out with a broken leg.

--FB Larry Centers is doubtful with a knee injury and did not practice on Wednesday.

--T Adrian Klemm is doubtful and did not practice Wednesday with an ankle injury.

--WR Deion Branch sat out Wednesday's practice without an ankle injury and remains questionable.

--S Je'Rod Cherry sat out Wednesday's practice with a knee injury and is questionable.

--CB Ty Law continues to sit out practices early in the week with an ankle injury and he remains questionable, but will likely practice Friday and Saturday and play Sunday.

--DE Willie McGinest remains questionable with a neck injury and he sat out practice Wednesday. He played with the injury last week.

--LB Mike Vrabel remains doubtful as he recovers from a broken arm, but he could play this week with a protective device on the arm since his cast his now off. He practiced on Wednesday.

--TE Daniel Graham remains questionable with a shoulder injury, but he practiced Wednesday.

--WR David Patten is questionable with a knee injury bit practiced Wednesday.

--RB Antowain Smith practiced Wednesday but remains questionable with a shoulder injury.

--QB Tom Brady is probable with an arm injury that he has played through for several weeks.

Quick Hits

  • Miami defensive coordinator Jim Bates served as Bill Belichick's defensive line coach when Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995. It is the second time in three weeks a former Belichick assistant opposed him as a defensive coordinator. Tennessee's Jim Schwartz also worked under Belichick in Cleveland.
  • The Patriots have two former Dolphins on their roster -- linebacker Larry Izzo and quarterback Damon Huard -- while Miami has former Patriots Terrell Buckley back on its roster.
  • CB Tyrone Poole continues to draw praise from Belichick for his consistent play and he has clearly been an upgrade over Otis Smith at that spot, which is one reason why the Patriots have improved on third down. Poole had his first interception as a Patriot last week and also forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. He doesn't believe the heat will matter this weekend as long as the players stay hydrated. "It's all about preparation," he said. "If you try to worry about climates or the elements you put yourself behind the eight ball."
  • LB Matt Chatham has taken advantage of his opportunities and will continue to fight for playing time even after Mike Vrabel and Ted Johnson return to the field. Chatham has 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery since earning more playing time with injuries to Vrabel and Rosevelt Colvin.
  • LB Larry Izzo continues to be a special teams force and leads the Patriots with seven tackles. He will have to elevate his game further along with coverage specialists Chris Akins and Antwan Harris if Je'Rod Cherry is unable to go.
  • RB Kevin Faulk will reclaim the starting running back job with Antowain Smith questionable. Faulk sat out the Titans win, but returned to play most of the second half last week.
  • RB Mike Cloud will see his carries reduced with Faulk's return to full-time status and Smith's possible return, but Cloud has been effective on the goal line and could get the carries down close.
  • S/CB Antwan Harris will continue to be the dime back, but with Ty Law leaving during parts of each of the last two games, Harris has been called upon to be the nickel back as well. Safety Eugene Wilson plays some cornerback during those situations.

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