By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots may be without their first-round pick and potential starting tight end for the second week of the preseason.
Rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry and TE Matt LaCosse were both completely absent from practice on Monday, the second-to-last open session of training camp. Harry came up hobbled after his second catch of the Patriots' first preseason game last Thursday against the Lions. It's unclear whether he re-aggravated an apparent leg issue that cropped up during joint practice, or that he suffered a new injury.
Fellow rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers continues to stand out, especially so with Harry absent on Monday. After virtual locks Julian Edelman, Harry, and Phillip Dorsett, Meyers is nearing that territory for whatever open spots remain at receiver.
Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman, Ryan Davis, Gunner Olszewski, and Damoun Patterson are competing for limited roster real estate behind them. Demaryius Thomas and Cameron Meredith were both present at practice, but continue to be limited as they work their way back from an Achilles injury and lingering knee issues, respectively. They are rapidly becoming candidates for injured reserve with the possibility of returning.
Harry's injury is reportedly minor in nature. But if it's a hamstring, there's concern that it could linger. The hope is that Harry gets right before the start of the season, which ultimately is more important than forcing snaps in practice or the preseason.
LaCosse, meanwhile, appeared to suffer a lower body injury of his own during Thursday's 31-3 preseason win over Detroit. He had been getting starter reps with the Patriots' offense and, if healthy, has a strong chance of making the 53-man roster.
Head coach Bill Belichick admitted before practice that the Patriots are working through injuries after the game, without getting into specifics on Harry or LaCosse.
"Yeah, we've got some [injury situations]," Belichick said. "We'll have to see where everybody is today here. We didn't do much the last couple of days, so we'll see what they're able to do today and go from there."
It would be more optimistic if Harry or LaCosse were simply limited on Monday, or worked on the lower conditioning field. Their total absence is an unsurprising but concerning development.
If LaCosse has to miss extended time, the Patriots would be looking at a tight end depth chart of Stephen Anderson, Lance Kendricks, Ryan Izzo, and Andrew Beck entering the regular season. The team also acquired Falcons special teams TE Eric Saubert for a conditional draft pick.
Likely starter Ben Watson will miss the first four games as he serves a suspension for violating the league's rules regarding performance-enhancing substances. Kendricks returned to practice on Monday but participated in a red non-contact jersey.
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 [email protected].