New England Patriots

  • The Patriots have one more week of joint practices and preseason action, this time on the road next week against the Las Vegas Raiders. And it sounds like they expect to be almost fully loaded.

    A handful of notable players did not play in Friday night’s 20-10 preseason win over the Carolina Panthers, but there were a series of updates after the game that actually sound promising for the Patriots next week, health-wise. The biggest update came straight from Head Coach Bill Belichick, when he was asked if he expects wide receiver Kendrick Bourne to be available for next week’s joint practices and preseason game against the Raiders.

    “I expect probably all of our players to be available this week with maybe the exception of [Kristian] Wilkerson,” Belichick said during his postgame press conference. “We’ll see what happens, unless somebody walks in here with something today, but I think we should be pretty close with everybody. Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.”

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  • Bourne did not play Friday night, and Belichick would only say “he wasn’t available” when asked why the wide receiver was absent. Belichick ejected Bourne from Tuesday’s joint practice after the receiver threw punches at Panthers players during a brawl between the teams, but Bourne returned for Wednesday’s session. Bourne is not injured, according to Mike Giardi of the NFL Network.

    Another notable player who was inactive Friday night was projected starting left tackle Trent Brown. But according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Brown isn’t injured, and simply had the night off. Preserving Brown, who missed eight games in 2021 due to a calf injury, will be critical to the success of the Patriots offense in 2022.

  • Rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton was the only Patriot to leave mid-game with an injury. The Patriots ruled him out with a shoulder issue in the second half. It’s unclear whether Belichick’s status update on the players included Thornton, who will likely need further evaluation before the team determines his availability for next week.

    Tight end Hunter Henry missed most of the week with a reported “minor” injury and was expected to return soon, so it’s possible he’s back on the field for the Patriots in Vegas.

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 11: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – AUGUST 11: Tyquan Thornton #11 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Wilkerson had to be taken off-site to be evaluated for a head injury after taking a hard hit during a special teams drill in Wednesday’s joint practice, which sparked another heated altercation between the teams.

    The Patriots are no longer holding open practices, but will practice on their own Monday before joint practices with Josh McDaniels and the Raiders on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Pats’ third and final preseason game takes place next Friday, Aug. 26 at Allegiant Stadium.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.