New England Patriots

Thursday marked yet another busy mix of roster-shuffling and injury management for the New England Patriots, who added tight end Rob Gronkowski to the injury report on Thursday. Gronkowski is dealing with an ankle injury as the Patriots get ready for their Friday walkthrough before a big game against Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Patriots’ biggest injury concerns right now, however, lie with two defensive mainstays. Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung both remain in the concussion protocol and missed their second straight practices on Thursday, leaving their statuses for Sunday in serious doubt. According to NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry, both Flowers and Chung were in the locker room after practice and were in good spirits.

One detail that lowers expectations for Chung’s availability came from the recently re-signed Cyrus Jones, who told NESN’s Doug Kyed that he took some snaps with the safeties on Thursday. Perhaps this is the start of a full position switch for Jones, but for now the likelihood is he’ll be considered an emergency safety. If the Patriots wanted to play “Big Nickel” defense on Sunday night, Nate Ebner would likely be third in line if Chung can’t play.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – SEPTEMBER 16: James O’Shaughnessy of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled by Patrick Chung of the New England Patriots during the game at TIAA Bank Field on September 16, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

But Ebner definitely wouldn’t replace close to everything Chung does for the Patriots defense. Bill Belichick sang the safety’s praises during his Wednesday presser.

“Yeah, Pat’s a versatile player,” said Belichick. “He does a lot of things and sometimes when a player has that much versatility for you, there’s two or three people that would fill that role between, in his case, defense and the kicking game, or for an offensive player, offense and the kicking game if the player has multiple roles in both units.

“So, yeah, it’s unlikely that you have – look, we’re fortunate that we have one Pat Chung. To have two Pat Chung’s would be pretty much impossible, so it would be multiple people to do all the things that he does. And, we have a number of other players like that. I mean, I’d say every team in the league has players like that that are guys that there’s just – teams have one of those players, and if he’s not there, you just don’t have another one like that.”

The secondary will need all the help it can to contain the Lions’ deep, skilled group of pass-catchers. And if Flowers can’t go, it’ll be that much harder to pressure Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. It could also mark the long-awaited NFL debut of top 2017 draft pick Derek Rivers.

Aug 16, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers rushes the Philadelphia Eagles offense during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. (Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

Aug 16, 2018; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers rushes the Philadelphia Eagles offense during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. (Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit may be 0-2, but their talent alone should be a challenge for what looks to be a shorthanded Patriots defense on Sunday night.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.


More Friday notes…

Notable Quotables

— Devin McCourty explained what makes Golden Tate such a tough receiver to control. Not only is he a crisp route runner and sure-handed receiver, once he has the football he can beat you on the ground if you’re not careful.

“He’s a running back once he gets the ball in his hands,” said McCourty. “[He has been] that way since 2010, whether it’s a tear screen outside, whether it’s an under-route, an over-route, catching the ball in the middle of the field — great vision, good balance, breaks tackles, stiff-arm. He’s really a running back when he gets the ball. I think he has all of those traits.”

— Matthew Slater told WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid about the importance of being even sharper on the road than at home.

“It takes a lot of focus when you go on the road,” said Slater. “Your focus has to be in high gear. You can’t afford silly mistakes that allow the crowd to get in the game. You have to do everything and you have to do it well.”

Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots gets ready to cover a kickoff play. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Matthew Slater (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In Other News

Patriots: The secondary is going to have its hands full with the Lions’ receiver group, writes Matt Dolloff. … Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer made a cryptic comment suggesting that the Patriots may be interested in signing the free-agent quarterback. … Rob Gronkowski (ankle) was a new addition on the Thursday injury report, but Ian Rapoport says the injury isn’t believed to be serious. … Corey Coleman, whom the Patriots released to make room for Josh Gordon, signed back with the team to join the practice squad. … Ty Anderson says the Patriots paid a fair price for Josh Gordon, based on recent history.

Red Sox: Boston has clinched its 10th American League East title in franchise history, and fourth in the last six seasons. … Tony Massarotti looks at what works (and what doesn’t) for David Price at Yankee Stadium. … Matt McCarthy discussed Dave Dombrowski’s need to use multiple starters in the bullpen, and also spoke with the Sports Hub’s own Michael Felger as part of his Hardcore Baseball podcast. … Sean Sylver asks five key questions for the Red Sox entering October.

Bruins: Initial roster cuts were made at training camp on Wednesday. … Ty Anderson examined Zach Senyshyn’s unusual road to the NHL, and how the Bruins should approach their young prospect. … Senyshyn and Jakub Lauko shined for the Bruins in their preseason win over the Washington Capitals.

Celtics: Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves; could he be on the Celtics’ radar? Worse, could he lure Kyrie Irving away from Boston to another team? … The Celtics and free-agent guard Jamal Crawford are reportedly showing mutual interest in each other.

MIAMI, FL – OCTOBER 30: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on October 30, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

From the Sports Hub…

Toucher & Rich talked Patriots-Jaguars with Troy Brown in-studio; discussed the Josh Gordon trade with Phil Perry; spoke to Ian O’Connor about his new book on Bill Belichick; and talked all things football with Albert Breer of The MMQB.

Zolak & Bertrand went over the mistakes the Patriots made in their loss to the Jaguars; reacted to the Josh Gordon trade and Bill Belichick’s conference call; talked to Patriots center David Andrews; and set up a DraftKings lineup for Week 3 with Scott Gramling.

Felger & Mazz reacted live to the Josh Gordon trade as the news dropped; did another “10 Questions” with Greg Bedard; talked Josh Gordon and the new Ian O’Connor book with Paul Perillo; and discussed David Price’s struggles in Yankee Stadium.

Adam Jones talked all things Patriots with Ty Anderson, Christopher Price, Kevin Duffy, Evan Lazar, and Mark Daniels.

Check back every Friday morning for a recap of everything to check out from 98.5 The Sports Hub.