For the second consecutive day this week, there was no sign of cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin) at Patriots practice, putting their availabilities for Sunday's prime time meeting with Atlanta in serious jeopardy.
That likely means sixth-year veteran Johnson Bademosi will get his second straight start opposite Malcolm Butler.
Bademosi's contributions for New England prior to last week's Jets game had been predominantly on special teams. He hadn't played a defensive snap all season since joining the Patriots in a September trade with Detroit. But when Gilmore became a late scratch and Rowe continued his prolonged absence, Bademosi's number was called.
He'd only started three games in his NFL career, all of them a season ago when he was a Lion. Bademosi finished the Jets game with five defensive tackles (three solo) while maintaining his role on special teams.
"Yeah, I felt like I played a whole game," he joked when asked Thursday how tired he was after last week's win. "I love playing football, so, I'm going to go out there and empty myself.
"It was a great opportunity. The coaches did a great job of preparing me. I had to trust my teammates and communicate well. I had fun out there."
"Very impressive," safety/co-captain Devin McCourty said of Bademosi's performance versus New York. "I thought he did a great job of, obviously, when we were in meetings and we were together of talking, asking questions. But, I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see.
"You know, when you're a backup more, you're kind of trying to see everything because you don't know what role you might be thrust upon once you're in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, 'Alright, let me focus in on this.' I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing, and then he still had to do his job on special teams, so he played a good amount of plays Sunday and stepped up big for the defense."
Bademosi's next opportunity could be even more fun – depending on your perspective – as the Falcons' Julio Jones is one of the NFL's most dangerous wide receivers.
"He's fast, he's physical, he can jump, he can run. He's smart. He's everything you want in a wide receiver. He's an amazing player," raved Bademosi. "We all know what he's capable of. So, as a defense, we have to be prepared."
"If you're on the field," added McCourty, "you're going to have to chip in to slow down Julio Jones. All of us are going to have to, so it's not just Bademosi. It's not just Malcolm or [Patrick] Chung or [Jonathan] Jones. It's all of us that are on the field."
Despite his relative lack of NFL experience on defense, Bademosi embraces the challenge of potentially facing Jones and the rest of Atlanta's talented offense.
"You've got to believe in yourself. I'm confident in my abilities. I work hard and I trust my preparation," he declared. "That's required of us. We're supposed to know what we're supposed to do, what our [game] plan is, and what [our opponents] do… just doing my job."