Talk about a blind-side hit.
Just minutes after Bill Belichick finished addressing reporters' questions at Gillette Stadium Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported that New England is planning to place two key players – one on each side of the ball – on injured reserve.
Both players suited up and played against Detroit Sunday night. RB Rex Burkhead left the game prematurely with what was announced by the Patriots as a neck injury. Rookie LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, who had a solid performance against the Lions, appeared to be shaken up during a running play late in the fourth quarter of the contest.
NFL rules stipulate that teams can remove as many as two players from their IR lists if those players were placed on it during the regular season. Those players must be on the list for at least eight weeks, so, it's possible that either or both of these men could be available again later this season.
Meanwhile, an ESPN report moments ago suggests that, for the time being, the Patriots are bolstering their linebacker corps with a seasoned veteran defensive end/outside linebacker.
Shortly after these two reports came out, the team confirmed them.
There was some good health news for New England at today's practice, when safety Patrick Chung (concussion), defensive end Trey Flowers (concussion), and tight end Jacob Hollister (chest) all managed to take part in some fashion. Flowers and Chung missed all of last week's action, including the Lions game, while Hollister sat out both the game and last Friday's practice.
Along with the roster transactions mentioned above, the team also made moves to fill roster vacancies. At practice Wednesday, running back Kenjon Barner was back with the Patriots. He'd originally signed with New England in Week 2, but was inactive versus Jacksonville that week and released last week so the team could bring back Cyrus Jones.
Barner's return was somewhat expected, though, as he had a locker with a new jersey number (38) when reporters went inside there on Tuesday afternoon. Meantime, DE/OLB John Simon suited up in jersey no. 55.
The Patriots made one alteration to their practice squad, letting go of wide receiver Jace Billingsley and bringing back defensive back David Jones (no. 39), who'd been with the team all of last season on the practice squad and competing this past summer in training camp.
This week, one of Rob Gronkowski's brothers told a Boston radio station that the tight end is "super frustrated" with the way New England has played so far this season.
When asked about these comments Wednesday, Gronkowski explained that his brother likely just got caught up in the moment.
"He doesn't speak for him, and he knows that," Gronkowski emphasized.
Chris Gronkowski, a former NFL fullback, was ostensibly on the air to promote a protein shake bottle that he's marketing.
"Buy his ice shaker, I guess," added Gronkowski.