If the Patriots are going to remain undefeated and extend their winning streak to 13 games, they might just have to do it short handed. Wednesday the team announced the injury report for this week's game in San Diego and there are eight players on the list.
Eight players marks the most names on the dreaded wounded list since the team listed eight players in Week 11 last season prior to the Saints game. The last time more than eight players were listed on the list, before last season's Week 10 matchup with the Rams, is not coincidentally also the last time the team lost a game.
The players listed Wednesday, all deemed as Questionable, are Joe Andruzzi (knee), Troy Brown (knee), Tedy Bruschi (shoulder), David Givens (leg), Rick Lyle (back), Willie McGinest (arm), Roman Phifer (leg) and Damien Woody (leg).
"The injury report is a little bit longer this week, unfortunately," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "I think that most of those guys probably have a real good chance of coming down to the wire with it being a game time or weekend type decision. We'll just have to see how it goes, but overall that list of guys is a pretty tough group."
But more worrisome than just the sheer numbers of players on the injury report is the fact that they are almost all key players. Included in the group are five solid starters and a significant substitute in McGinest. Through three games this season, the dinged group has combined to start 13 games and total 40 tackles, three sacks, 4 passes defensed, 31 receptions, 292 yards and a touchdown.
As much as these are key guys that may be unavailable, Belichick said that it can't be allowed to affect preparation and that other players must simply step up.
"The guys that can't practice, the other people are going to have to take reps for them," Belichick said. "We are going to have to make some decisions here after practice today and after practice on Thursday as to how likely we think it will be for certain guys to play. You know we have a lot of different packages both on offense and defense and that may affect how we want to use or even prepare to use certain ones of those."
For his part, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that the injuries are just something that the team will have to deal with in preparation for the 3-0 Chargers, regardless of who can or can't play. For his part, Brady should know a little bit about filling in for an injured starter after stepping up for Drew Bledsoe in Week 3 last season.
"It's football, so some guys are there some days and some guys aren't," Brady said. "I don't think you go into practice saying, 'God we are not going to be able to do quite the things we did.' Coach says that if you are on the roster you are expected to play and guys are here for a reason. They can play and can fill in if other guys aren't out there. When guys are in there, coach expects them to do well."
Marc Edwards, a guy who makes his living quietly banging heads with defenders on every play, doesn't think injuries should affect the Patriots preparation one bit.
"You have a lot of guys that might be dinged up, but the guys behind them have to step up and play just like they would," Edwards said. "It's the same thing Brady did last year and everybody has to prepare every week like you have to get in there and play. We can't hold back on what we do best just because we don't have our normal guys in there. The other guys have to step up and make up for that."
It is important to remember though that the Questionable listing means that there is a 50-percent chance that the players will play. And with the players in question being well-seasoned veterans missing practices leading up to a game might not be as important as if they were younger players. These guys know the system and will spend the week mentally preparing for the game and treating their injuries. If any of the players become physically able to play on Sunday it is unlikely that missed practiced time will greatly affect their play. But as coach Belichick said, "We'll just have to see how it goes."
Larry Izzo was named AFC special teams player of the week after tallying six tackles in the kicking game against the Chiefs. Izzo leads the NFL with 10 special teams tackles on the season. … The San Francisco 49ers signed linebacker Brandon Moore off of the Patriots practice squad. Moore had been on the 49ers 53-man roster early in the season and now returns to add depth to counter an injury to linebacker Jamie Winborn. … The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that cornerback Ty Law and the team agreed to restructure his contract. The report states that the team took Law's $3.7 million salary and turned $2.7 into a bonus to be spread over the final four year's of the deal.