FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England's offensive line woes this season won't be helped much today with the absence of Shaq Mason. The starting right guard has been dealing with an ankle injury that limited his practice time this past week. The Patriots have a couple of options to fill his spot, with James Ferentz or Jermaine Eluemunor being the most likely candidates.
On a positive note, however, the team will be bolstered on both sides of the ball by the returns of RB Rex Burkhead (foot) and safety Patrick Chung (heel/chest). Burkhead has been held out of the past three contests and practicing only a limited basis. Chung, meantime, is back in the lineup after missing most of the past two games.
With Burkhead back, rookie RB Damien Harris is once again a healthy scratch (not listed on the injury report) after making a cameo against the Jets this past Monday night in New York. While it remains to be seen just how much Chung will play today, his understudy, Terrence Brooks, could still be in the rotational mix, as he's played well in his appearances this season.
Tight ends Ryan Izzo (concussion) and Matt LaCosse (knee) will both be out for the second straight game with their respective ailments, meaning we'll likely see a lot of Benjamin Watson and Eric Tomlinson, the only other two players at that position on the roster.
Rookie CB Joejuan Williams and rookie DL Byron Cowart are also healthy scratches today. New England only needed to deactivate six players today to get down to the NFL-mandated 46-man game day roster limit because they only have 52 players on the active roster at the moment, following the trade of DL Michael Bennett to Dallas.
Over on the Browns sideline, Cleveland will be without starting safety Damarious Randall. He was ruled out Friday because of a hamstring issue that kept him from practicing at all week. Randall is the most significant of the Browns' inactive players today.