Days after a tough loss at Buffalo, the New England defense took another blow Wednesday as Ted Johnson will be out for the foreseeable future after surgery to repair an injury to his left foot.
"He will probably be out for a little while," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said of Johnson, who thanks to the injury suffered in the Bills loss is listed as out on the injury report for this Sunday's game with the Eagles.
Johnson's loss marks the second starter and captain the New England defense has lost in a week. The nine-year veteran has had a number of injuries in his career, including two torn biceps, but had been in good health dating back to the 2001 season.
"It's a tough break," Belichick said. "Ted had a real good training camp. I thought he played well in the preseason games. To this point he was having a very solid year. It's a tough setback."
Both Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer have been rotating with Johnson at inside linebacker in the 3-4 this preseason. Now the two will be forced into full-time, starting roles.
"Schematically it doesn't really change things," Bruschi said. "We'll still do a lot of the same things, but guys will just be asked to sort of do different things. I'll bump over to Mike and play the Mike position. Roman will be in there doing the things that he's usually done. There will be a couple of other guys that will have to step up a little bit in other positional roles. But I think one of the good things about the linebackers in this group is that we are sort of multi tasking and we do a lot of things well."
"I just think it is another opportunity for some other guys to step up," defensive end and fellow captain Richard Seymour said. "I am not sure who is going to step up in that spot, but whoever's number is called I just think they have to be ready to go."
"Any time you lose two of your starters of course you are not as good as you felt you were before," Rodney Harrison said. "But I think we have a lot of talent and we have depth on this defense. I think you have to have the guys that were here already and some of the guys that were brought in step up even more. It's up to us to get things going and rally and make plays. I mean we were brought here to make plays. No excuses about it, we have to go out there and make plays."
Other than Johnson, who is out with the foot injury, the Patriots listed wide receiver David Givens (leg) as questionable and center Damien Woody (chest) as probable on the injury report on Wednesday. The Eagles listed a few more wounded with defensive end Jerome McDougle (ankle/hip) listed as out, free safety Brian Dawkins (foot), cornerback Bobby Taylor (foot) and defensive end Brandon Whiting (hamstring) listed as doubtful and center Hank Fraley (arm), defensive tackle Corey Simon (back) and wide receiver James Thrash (quad) all listed as probable. … According to PhiladelphiaEagles.com Clinton Hart will start in Dawkins' place this Sunday for the Eagles at free safety. … The Patriots, The Gillette Company and the American Red Cross Blood Services New England announced the arrival of the Save a Life Tour 2003 in New England Wednesday. The tour includes a blood drive at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 30 from 12 to 6 p.m. "Due to the shortage of blood nationwide, we are eager to participate in the Save A Life Tour 2003 to help the Red Cross in its efforts to increase blood donations in New England," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "Many of us have friends or family who have benefited from a blood donation. Donating blood is a simple act, but one that has a huge impact on the lives of others. We are happy to help get the message out to New Englanders." For more information on the Save A Life Tour 2003 call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE, your local Red Cross Blood Chapter or visit www.givelife.org. … A note for Sunday's game courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau. The game will mark the first time in 71 years that two NFL teams will face each other in their second game of the season, after each was shut out in its first game. It last happened on October 2, 1932, when the Chicago Bears played the Staten Island Stapletons in Game Two, after each had scored zero points in its first game. The Bears-Stapletons game ended in a 0-0 tie! ... Bill Belichick put the 31-0 loss at Buffalo to rest with some rather interesting comments to wrap up his press conference on Wednesday. "We are past it. We had the autopsy. We are past it. You can't kill it again. How many times can you pump bullets into a dead body? You analyze it. You make the corrections. We are playing this week."