Last week, New England needed to replace starting center David Andrews because of a hand injury. They still have that task to fulfill tonight in Kansas City, but also must figure out who starts in place of starting right guard Shaq Mason. Limited in practice since Thursday with a calf issue, Mason has been a fixture on the Patriots O-line the past several seasons.
A week ago, the Patriots elected to slide left guard Joe Thuney over to center and fill his spot with rookie Mike Onwenu. They could do that again and simply plug in a replacement for Mason, such as veteran James Ferentz or second-year man Hjalte Froholdt. Another option would be to move Thuney back to his normal position, play Ferentz or Froholdt at center, and insert Onwenu at right guard. Another rookie, Justin Herron, could factor into the equation as well.
It'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff decides to arrange this week's offensive line. The Patriots have been effective running the football in two of the previous three weeks, thanks in large part to their guys in the trenches. They'll need that part of the offense to be productive tonight if they have any chance of beating K.C.
The running game could get a boost, though, from Damien Harris' first appearance of 2020. New England made a flurry of roster moves after arriving in Kansas City earlier today. Two players – RB Sony Michel (quadriceps muscle) and safety/special teams contributor Cody Davis (rib) – landed on Injured Reserve, making room for Harris, the second-year tailback, and WR Gunner Olszewski to return from their three-game stints on that same IR list. WR Isaiah Zuber will also get called up from the practice squad, as he did a week ago versus the Las Vegas Raiders.
Mason, however, is the most notable name on New England's inactive list tonight. The others – WR Jakobi Meyers, rookie TE Dalton Keene, and rookie DB Myles Bryant – have not been much of a factor thus far in 2020.
From Kansas City's perspective, starting defensive lineman Chris Jones is the most consequential absence from tonight's lineup. He's been limited in practices with a groin injury. Without him up front, New England might have one less problem to worry about in terms of running the football.