The Patriots head to Buffalo this weekend with some significant injury concerns. There were 11 players listed on the injury report during the week and most of those were limited during practice. Some of the names were more glaring than others – including Julian Edelman.
Edelman sustained an injury against the Jets, leaving the game in the first half and not returning. Listed with a chest injury, with media reports specifying it as a rib issue, Edelman was present at practice all week, but his availability for the game against the Bills is still in question.
There is also some concern along the offensive line, where new starting left tackle Marshall Newhouse was listed on the injury report with an illness and missed some practice time. The team has been hit hard with injuries along the line this season, with David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn ending up on injured reserve and Marcus Cannon missing the Dolphins game with a shoulder injury.
With Newhouse's status in question the Patriots might once again be forced to shuffle things and insert their fourth starting tackle in four games.
With the injuries in mind, the Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week is: Which injury is most concerning for the Patriots against the Bills this week?
Patriots.com's Mike Dussault says…
There's no question Julian Edelman is vital to the offense, but nothing can blow up a game plan faster than having poor tackle play, especially on Tom Brady's blindside. With nearly two games of experience under his belt now and more time to work with Dante Scarnecchia, Newhouse should be poised to take some positive steps forward as he gets more comfortable in the system. Getting the ground game going is another critical aspect that the tackle would be heavily involved in.
Just missing practices this week is a setback for Newhouse and should he be unable to go, his replacement is not easily discernible. Jermaine Eluemunor was the swing tackle last week and could be an option, or perhaps it could be Korey Cunningham, who started six games at left tackle for the Cardinals last season but has been on the right side since arriving in New England.
Either way, it would force the Patriots offensive line to start over once again on the left side and give the Bills defense an easy spot to attack. They should be able to manage without Edelman, but if Bills defenders are in the backfield all day it won't matter who the receivers are.
Patriots.com's Paul Perillo says …
After Tom Brady, Edelman is by the far the most indispensable players on offense – and perhaps the entire roster. Edelman is Brady's security blanket and when he's not available for those short, quick passes it changes the whole attack.
Brady is great at getting rid of the ball quickly and identifying where it needs to go. Receivers like Edelman, who are in sync with the quarterback and understand where they need to be are the most valuable to Brady. Losing his dependability would force Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to alter the game plan and find other ways to move the ball. That was one of the reasons the offense wasn't as effective in the second half against the Jets after the receiver left with his injury.
Edelman is tough and has played through pain many times in the past. If he's unable to do so this time around, the offense will have a much different look.