After making his first appearance since Oct. 17 last week against Cincinnati, cornerback Tyrone Poole was placed on injured reserve on Friday, leaving the Patriots one man short as the prepare for their Monday night battle in Miami against the Dolphins.
Head Coach Bill Belichick had expressed some optimism about increased playing time for both Poole and fellow corner Ty Law earlier in the day at his press conference, but the coach explained the following day that Poole wasn't likely to be 100 percent before the end of the regular season.
"It was a situation where medically we felt he needed more time to really get over the hump and we were running out of it," Belichick said. "It's unfortunate but that's what we had to do. If it was the second week of the season maybe it would be different."
It has been a lost season for Poole, who hasn't seen any extension action since the Week 4 win in Buffalo. He was forced to sit out the Miami game the following week with a knee injury and tried to return Oct. 17 against Seattle. But Poole was ineffective for most of the first half against the Seahawks and sat out the second half.
Last month, Poole said he underwent arthroscopic surgery at that point and he subsequently missed the next seven games. He was activated for the Bengals game but saw very limited action. Belichick said Poole did not suffer a setback in the Cincinnati game but was simply not progressing fast enough to be a factor later in the season.
The coach also said he anticipated making a roster move, although he wouldn't specify when or at which position. "We'll probably end up doing something here but we'll keep our options open and see what's best," he said. "It's possible [we'll do something before the Miami game]."
The good news for the Patriots is the secondary has plenty of experience playing without both Poole and Law. The latter continues to make progress toward his return but until then Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Earthwind Moreland and Troy Brown will continue to fill the void.
"[Losing Poole] doesn't really effect us at all because he hasn't played really since the third game of the season," Belichick admitted.
Belichick said he cautioned his team to be on the lookout for some trick plays against the Dolphins. He said Miami has tried "a couple of gadget plays a week" since its Week 9 win over St. Louis. Since then, the Dolphins offense has been more aggressive and productive.
Even though Miami is just 2-5 in that span, the offense has improved dramatically. The Dolphins have averaged 22.6 points per game since notching their first victory of the season against the Rams. Before that, they managed a paltry 9.2.
"What they do is force you to defend the whole field," Belichick said of the trickery. "But they've had some turnovers doing that, too. Those types of plays, when you hit them, can create field position and scoring opportunities but if you miss them they can lead to turnovers."
Dolphins quarterback A.J. Feeley has been more productive than his predecessor Jay Fiedler, but he's also been more mistake-prone. Belichick said Feeley has a better arm than Fielder and likes to get the ball downfield, but overall felt the changes to the offensive scheme have been minimal. …
Belichick conducted practice in the team's indoor practice facility, no doubt with the heat jacked up to help prepare for Miami. Despite some rather cool temperatures this week in Southern Florida, the conditions still figure to be much warmer Monday night than the near-freezing numbers in Foxborough. …
Free safety Eugene Wilson had a welcomed addition to his family on Thursday when his wife, Jamie, gave birth to a son. Eugene Wilson III checked in at seven pounds, 13 ounces and all are doing well. … Wide receiver Bethel Johnson was added to the injury report Friday with a thigh injury. He was listed as questionable after having missed portions of the team practice. SafetyRodney Harrison was back in the locker room Friday and Saturday after having missed all of Thursday activities with the flu. He's listed as probable but said he felt fine and would play against the Dolphins. Receivers David Givens andDaniel Graham remained questionable on Friday's list with ankle and rib injuries, respectively. The updated Saturday injury report will be available at 4 p.m.