Without starter Trent Brown this weekend, what will be the "right" move on the offensive line? That's the question the Patriots must answer now that their regular right tackle will sit out the Jets game.
After Brown left the regular season opener because of a calf injury he sustained on the first drive, New England simply inserted second-year backup Justin Herron, but in the second half, Herron was spelled by recently-acquired Yasir Durant, who is listed as a guard on the team's roster. Herron wasn't listed on this week's injury report, nor was he announced during the game to have suffered any injury. So, we can only assume it was a coaching decision.
For tomorrow's game against the Jets, the Patriots could go back either to Herron or Durant, the latter of whom seemed to have a solid debut as a Patriot. The coaches might also decide that second-year starting left guard Mike Onwenu, who has some tackle-playing experience, could be a more suitable option. If that were the case, expect versatile veteran Ted Karras to replace Onwenu at left guard.
Third-year veteran Yodny Cajuste, who's yet to suit up for a game in his career, was inactive with a hamstring last week, but he could be an option to step in for Brown if he's deemed fit to play Sunday. So, the Patriots, as you can see, have plenty of options. Which one they choose likely won't be known until just after kickoff tomorrow.
Meantime, before heading down to the New York metropolitan area Saturday, the Patriots made a series of somewhat expected roster moves. Backup QB Brian Hoyer is now signed to the active roster off the practice squad. Last weekend, he was simply promoted and reverted back after the game.
The club also promoted kicker Nick Folk from the practice squad for the second straight week, only this time, the Patriots also placed rookie kicker Quinn Nordin on injured reserve. He was simply deactivated for the Dolphins game a week ago, but came down with an abdominal injury during this past week of practice.
The rules regarding practice squad promotions (which went into effect last season) call for any individual practice squad player to be elevated to the active game day roster only twice during the regular season. So, they would have had to make some decisions with Hoyer and Folk sooner or later. It seems likely that both players will remain on the active roster for the foreseeable future.
In addition to Folk, defensive lineman Tashawn Bower has been given a practice squad upgrade to the active roster for this week's game. NFL teams are allowed to bring up a maximum of two practice squad players each week for game days. Why Bower? Unclear. Perhaps he had a great week of practice and is simply being rewarded. There is no obvious need for an extra D-lineman, a position where the Patriots are quite deep already.
New England, though, still has to decide on several more players who must be deactivated by tomorrow in order to reduce their game-day roster to the league-mandated 48-man limit. We'll update you on those when the names are submitted late Sunday morning.