DETROIT – For the Patriots, all eyes this week have been on newly-acquired wide receiver Josh Gordon. More than two hours before kickoff, Gordon (who's been listed with a hamstring injury) appeared on the field here in Detroit and spent a brief period running routes and catching passes from a team staffer.
Having only been with the club for a few days, it would have been a remarkable achievement for Gordon to be active in his first game as a Patriot. However, the club opted to give him more time to heal that hamstring and learn the complex playbook before making him active. Perhaps next week against Miami he'll be more prepared to contribute.
Meanwhile, when the final injury report was distributed last Friday, New England ruled just one player out for the Lions game. Second-year tight end Jacob Hollister was listed with a chest injury, which, according to an ESPN report, stemmed from having taken a hard fall in last Thursday's practice. The report added that Hollister could be sidelined for as long as a couple of weeks. That's a frustrating development for both the player and the offense, as this leaves New England with one less pass-catching option.
Upon arrival in Detroit Saturday evening, the Patriots downgraded three more players. Defensive end Trey Flowers and safety/co-captain Patrick Chung both sustained concussions during the previous game in Jacksonville and, as a result, neither man was able to practice at all last week. They'd initially been listed as doubtful to play versus Detroit. Second-year DE Derek Rivers will likely make his first regular season appearance in place of Flowers. Rivers has been a healthy scratch the past two weeks.
Cornerback Eric Rowe, meantime, suffered a groin injury (presumably against Jacksonville in Week 2), which limited him all last week in practice. The club originally dubbed Rowe questionable to play in the Lions game. To compensate for his absence, rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen will be available after both were held out of the first two contests.
Two other players deactivated Sunday night were healthy scratches (not listed on the injury report): offensive linemen Cole Croston and Brian Schwenke. That means starting right tackle Marcus Cannon (left calf) will be available to play after sitting out last week's game at Jacksonville.
From the Lions' den, one of Detroit's best defensive players, cornerback Darius Slay, barely practiced at all last week due to a concussion. He was deemed questionable by the Lions on Friday after a limited workout that day, yet was cleared to play versus New England. However, defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, also questionable with a shoulder issue, will not play tonight.
That's one less pass-rush threat that QB Tom Brady will have to worry about, but Slay's ability to suit up will give the Lions a valuable coverage weapon against Brady.