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Analysis: Patriots Place OT Marcus Cannon on Injured Reserve in Flurry of Roster Moves

The Pats made a series of roster moves on Saturday.

Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (61).
Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (61).

The Patriots had several roster moves hit the transaction wire on Saturday ahead of Sunday's tilt with the Colts.

Along the offensive line, the Patriots placed offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (concussion) on injured reserve after Cannon sat out the final two days of practice this week. It's unclear when Cannon suffered the head injury, but it will now cause him to miss at least four games. In a corresponding move, New England signed running back J.J. Taylor to the active roster from the practice squad. The Pats also used standard elevations on practice squad center Kody Russey and WR/RB Lynn Bowden Jr.

The Pats ruled out starting center David Andrews (concussion) and Cannon on Friday's final injury report. Andrews will miss his second-straight game after suffering a concussion on an illegal blindside block by Bears defensive tackle Mike Pennel, a cheap shot that the league later fined Pennel.

With two starters down on the offensive line, New England's likely starting five will include Isaiah Wynn at right tackle and veteran backup James Ferentz at center. Last week, the Patriots struggled to block the Jets four-man rushes without Andrews, allowing a 38.6% pressure rate and generating most of their rushing yards after contact.

During practice this week, Wynn and third-year tackle Yodny Cajuste took the lion's share of the reps at right tackle, while standout interior lineman Mike Onwenu stayed at right guard.

Due to Wynn's struggles in pass protection and with penalties this season, Cajuste could get a chance with the Georgia product having a short leash on Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, Wynn has the sixth-worst pass-blocking grade this season among tackles (51.9) and is tied for the most penalties by an offensive lineman this season.

Cajuste, a 2019 third-round pick by the team, had flashes of good foot speed and skill in pass protection during training camp. However, a severe thumb sprain led to a stint on injured reserve for the West Virginia product, who is now healthy and hoping to contribute.

With Cannon now out for at least the next four games, an opportunity presents itself for Cajuste or Wynn to earn the starting right tackle job for the remainder of the season. Although Cannon faired well as an extra offensive lineman in the team's jumbo package, the veteran also struggled in pass protection as a full-time tackle, so this opportunity could upgrade the position in the long run if Cajuste or Wynn starts to play well.

At running back, Damien Harris (illness) and rookie Pierre Strong Jr. (hamstring) are officially questionable for Sunday's matchup with the Colts, which could be why the team made Taylor an option by signing him to the active roster. Although he has good shiftiness as a ball carrier, Taylor is more consistent as a between the tackles runner rather than catching the ball out of the backfield. If he's active, Taylor could have a role spelling Rhamondre Stevenson as an early-down back on Sunday.

As for Bowden, the do-it-all offensive weapon earned practice player of the week honor over the last two weeks. The 25-year-old signed with the Pats practice squad in early September and has experience at both wide receiver and running back. He is a potential gadget player who can move around the formation, similar to how the team envisioned using veteran Ty Montgomery before his injury.

New England will host the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium with kickoff at 1 pm ET on Sunday.

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