Patriots rule out one player for season opener against Eagles
The New England Patriots will have nearly their full roster available when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s season opener. However, some key players do enter the game banged up, according to Friday’s injury report.
We’ll start with the one player who has already been ruled out – cornerback Jack Jones (illness). Jones will now officially be unavailable for Sunday’s game, after missing practice on both Thursday and Friday.
Joining Jones on Friday’s injury report are five players listed as questionable. That includes two new additions – running back Rhamondre Stevenson (illness) and quarterback Matt Corral (not injury related). Both players were absent from Friday’s practice after being full participants all week.
According to Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald, Stevenson is dealing with a stomach bug. He is expected to play on Sunday.
There have been no further reports on what kept Corral off the practice field on Friday, or how it will impact his status for Sunday’s game. Corral was claimed by the Patriots on waivers last week from the Carolina Panthers, and is the only quarterback besides Mac Jones on the active roster. On Friday morning, Bill Belichick was asked if Corral was ready to be the backup this week, or if the team would elevate 2022 backup Bailey Zappe from the practice squad. Belichick said the team was still in the process of making that decision.
The three remaining questionable players are wide receiver DeVante Parker (knee) and starting guards Cole Strange (knee) and Mike Onwenu (ankle). All three were limited throughout the week.
On Philadelphia’s side, fornerbacks Josh Jobe (illness) and Mario Goodrich (illness) were removed from the injury report after being limited this week. The Eagles will be full-go on Sunday.
Stopping the Eagles, easier said than done: Patriots vs. Eagles What to Watch For
There’s no dipping a toe in the water as the New England Patriots begin their 2023 season. They’ll be cannonballing right into the deep end of the pool of NFL opponents, when they host the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
The Eagles are coming off of one of their best seasons in franchise history. In just the second season under head coach Nick Sirianni, the Birds went 14-3 – tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the best record in the NFL – and reached their fourth Super Bowl in NFL history.
On offense, the Eagles were led by MVP runner-up Jalen Hurts. In his third NFL season, Hurts completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. On the ground he added another 760 yards (to the tune of 4.6 yards per carry) and 13 more scores. Bill Belichick described Hurts this week as “arguably the best player in the league, or one of the top two or three best players in the league.”
Defensively the Eagles’ front put together a historic season. They piled up 70 sacks, the third most ever by a team in a single season. It was just the third time a team has surpassed the 60 sack mark in a season since 2000, with the Eagles joining the 2000 Saints (66 sacks) and 2006 Chargers (61).
Sports Hub Patriots Podcast: Eagles Preview
(Click here to subscribe to Patriots Audio on 98.5 The Sports Hub.)
For all their dominance though, the Eagles are relatively straightforward in the way they go about their business. There’s not a ton of smoke and mirrors in their philosophy, as Belichick pointed out this week.
“I don’t think it’s a big mystery about what they do. They just do it very well,” he explained. “They’re well-balanced, so you can’t over play one thing without giving up something else.” Things aren’t expected to change despite the team losing both coordinators this offseason.
Simply put, the Eagles are talented. It doesn’t matter if opponents know what’s coming, it’s about being able to physically make the plays to stop it (a concept Patriots fans should be familiar with from their own team’s dominant two-decade run). It’s easy to identify what the Patriots need to be able to do to have a chance to win the game – but it’ll be much harder for them to actually do it.
Keeping that ‘easier said than done’ theme in mind, let’s look at some key areas the Patriots will need to be competitive in if they want to start their season with a win on Sunday…