FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Right tackle Trent Brown's calf injury, suffered during the first drive in Week 1, has limited his practice time the past couple weeks and kept him out of action entirely against the Jets in Week 2. He won't take part in this week's game against the New Orleans Saints, either. Brown is among New England six deactivated players for today's home game, and without him last week, the offensive line struggled both in pass protection and running the football.
It's likely we'll see second-year man Justin Herron continue to occupy Brown's right tackle spot, as he did in relief of guard Yasir Durant, who had to be yanked after just one quarter last week in New York. Durant had considerable difficulty playing out of his regular position. Third-year player Yodny Cajuste is also an option.
Safety Adrian Phillips didn't practice Thursday or Friday this past week, but it is believed he was excused to be with his wife, who was preparing to give birth to their first child. He'll be dressed to play today, however, as will linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who returns to action after being held out of Week 2 practices leading up to the Jets game because of a throat injury. Van Noy participated fully in this past week's on-field sessions.
The news isn't so good for second- year linebacker Josh Uche. He popped up on the injury report Friday with a back problem that limited his practice time that day and will apparently keep him from playing today versus New Orleans.
In what seemed like a corresponding move, the Patriots promoted practice squad linebacker Jahlani Tavai on Saturday. Tavai might not be a household name yet in New England, having only joined the club at the beginning of this month, but he has considerable NFL experience with Detroit over the past two seasons, where he started about half of the 31 Lions games in which he appeared.
The remaining four inactive Patriots are technically healthy scratches (not listed on the injury report): tight end Devin Asiasi (third straight week), rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson, rookie pass rusher Ronnie Perkins, and rookie cornerback Shaun Wade. Of this group, only Stevenson has been active on a game day so far this year (Week 1).
Across the field, New Orleans' defense should be bolstered by the return of cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who was a game-time decision last week in Carolina, but ultimately was deactivated. Lattimore injured a thumb in Week 1, then had surgery to fix the issue. Limited in the Saints' first two practices this week, he managed to practice fully on Friday. Earlier this month, Lattimore and the Saints agreed to a huge contract extension, so, he's clearly a key element of their defense.
On offense, New Orleans will be without its starting center, Erik McCoy, today due to a calf injury that prevented him from practicing all this week. Starting right guard Cesar Ruiz spelled McCoy in the Saints' Week 2 visit to Carolina, with backup Calvin Throckmorton stepping in at right guard. Throckmorton is also hobbling, though, with a knee injury that limited him during practices this past week, meaning that interior of the Saints' O-line could be a vulnerability the Patriots might try to exploit today.