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Analysis: Patriots Downgrade CB Jonathan Jones to Out, Starting O-Line Trending in Positive Direction for Sunday's Game vs. Jets

The Patriots cornerback depth will be tested on Sunday, but the good news is that the Pats starting offensive line is trending in a positive direction.

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The Patriots are heading to the Meadowlands for a showdown with the division-rival Jets on Sunday without a key piece in their secondary.

En route to New York, the Patriots downgraded CB Jonathan Jones (ankle) and rookie OL Sidy Sow (concussion) to out, meaning they won't play vs. the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. After popping up on the injury report mid-week last week, the veteran cornerback will miss his second-straight game with an ankle injury. Jones didn't make the trip to New York, removing another layer of depth at the position for New England, who is getting very thin in the secondary at cornerback.

On Friday, second-year CB Marcus Jones (shoulder) joined fellow 2022 draft pick Jack Jones (hamstring) on in-season injured reserve. Marcus Jones will miss at least the next four games, with head coach Bill Belichick saying he'll be "out for a while" during his Friday press conference, while Jack Jones isn't eligible to return until Week 5.

With the second-year Joneses on injured reserve, the injury to the veteran Jones leaves the Patriots with the following at corner: Christian Gonzalez, Myles Bryant (CB/S), Jalen Mills (CB/S), Shaun Wade, and rookie special-teamer Ameer Speed. Gonzalez will play a major role at outside cornerback, as the rookie has in the first two weeks. Bryant likely elevates to the top slot/nickel, and Mills probably kicks back outside to cornerback as New England's top three CBs against the Jets.

Although losing the veteran Jones for the second consecutive game is difficult, the Jets passing attack with backup quarterback Zach Wilson is limited. Besides star receiver Garrett Wilson, WR Allen Lazard is second on the team with four catches for 69 yards. At the same time, former Packers teammate Randall Cobb has yet to register a catch on two targets through two weeks.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick owns Wilson with a 4-0 record against the Jets quarterback, who has two touchdowns to seven interceptions and a 50.9 passer rating in his career vs. New England. If the Pats can take out Garrett Wilson with Gonzalez on the scene and stop the Jets running back duo on the ground, the Patriots defense should hold up against Wilson and the Jets sans the Joneses.

With that said, one wildcard is gadget receiver Mecole Hardman. Hardman has fallen out of favor with the Jets coaching staff, only logging 14 offensive snaps in the first two games. Still, the former Chiefs wideout could replicate an Isaiah McKenzie-like route tree now that Bryant is in the slot instead of faster options like Marcus and Jonathan Jones.

The bottom line for the Patriots defense versus the Jets offense is the quarterback, though, and Zach Wilson needs to stay above water against Belichick before we get too concerned about the weapons. My read on the conservative approach with Jonathan Jones is that the team would rather have him at 100 percent for next week's game in Dallas.

Moving on to the offensive line, Sow was in and out of practice this week, finishing the week in a red non-contact jersey in Friday's session. The writing was on the wall that Sow, who is still in concussion protocol, would sit this game out.

On a positive note, the Patriots projected starting offensive line made the trip and is in line to play on Sunday. The team removed starting left tackle Trent Brown from the final injury report, meaning he cleared concussion protocol and is good to go. Starting guards Cole Strange (knee, questionable) and Michael Onwenu (ankle, questionable) returned against the Dolphins in Week 2 and made the trip this week.

With the Patriots starting O-Line practicing in some capacity this week and trending in a positive direction, New England could have its core group together for the first time this season (including training camp). The Pats ranked dead-last in run-blocking grade and second-to-last in pass-block win rate in the first two weeks. Although it's a tough matchup against a great defensive front, the Patriots are finally healthy along the offensive line to battle the Jets.

New England's right tackle situation is still unsettled, but the projected starting offensive line could look like this: LT Trent Brown, LG Cole Strange, C David Andrews, RG Mike Ownenu, and RT Calvin Anderson. Anderson might have a shorter leash after two rough outings this week, with backup Vederian Lowe looking serviceable in Week 2.

Lastly, the Patriots did not elevate any players from the practice squad ahead of this week's game. New England will visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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