Whoever the Patriots’ quarterback is, he’ll be down at least one receiver Monday night
October 24th, 2022
New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84), wide receiver Nelson Agholor (15), wide receiver DeVante Parker (1), and quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) celebrate in the second half of the game on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK)
The Patriots’ starting quarterback against Chicago remains unconfirmed, as of Monday morning. But a new report indicates that whoever ends up under center, he will have to play without one of the regulars at wide receiver.
Kendrick Bourne is not expected to play Monday night at Gillette Stadium, as he deals with turf toe, according to Mike Giardi of the NFL Network. Bourne suffered the injury after just four snaps during the Patriots’ Week 6 win over the Browns. He’d previously played a season-high 34 offensive snaps in Week 5 against the Lions.
Meanwhile, Nelson Agholor (hamstring) also remains on the Patriots’ injury report after missing last week’s game. But he appears to be making progress. Agholor didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice, but was upgraded to “limited” on Friday and Saturday.
Both Bourne and Agholor were listed as “Questionable” for Monday night. ESPN’s Mike Reiss hinted that both will be out Monday night when he responded to a question from a Twitter follower.
Elsewhere on offense, tackle Isaiah Wynn (shoulder) and right guard Mike Onwenu (ankle) are also questionable. Tight end Jonnu Smith was removed from the final injury report and appears fully recovered from a sprained ankle.
Based on the Patriots’ receiver usage through six games, the absence of Bourne and Agholor would certainly shorten the rotation against the Bears. But it wouldn’t necessarily affect the top of the depth chart. DeVante Parker (315 snaps) and Jakobi Meyers (211) remain the likely top-2 guys at the position.
Rookie Tyquan Thornton appears on track to be a regular in three-receiver sets Monday night. He has not only avoided further injury since returning in Week 5, but produced efficiently and at a high level. Through two games, he’s caught 6-of-8 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, and added three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown run. Thornton’s mix of speed and versatility is already looking like a major asset.
But who’s going to throw these guys the ball? The Patriots still haven’t revealed who will start at quarterback, if they have even determined that yet. There have been a multitude of reports on Mac Jones’ status for the game, but nothing definitive. It’s believed that Jones will resume starting duties once he’s deemed healthy enough to play, but there’s no clear indication that his return will happen against the Bears.
New England Patriots quarterbacks #10 Mac Jones and #4 Bailey Zappe share a laugh at practice. (Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK)
If Bourne and Agholor are both inactive, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Patriots elevate wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey from the practice squad to the main roster. They also have Tre Nixon, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Scotty Washington available for elevations. But quarterback Garrett Gilbert may be needed, as well, if Jones can’t play.
The Patriots are expected to elevate linebacker Jamie Collins from the practice squad to the main roster, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, so they have one spot left. Official roster elevations are due by 4 p.m. ET on Monday. At that point, we may get more clarity on the quarterback situation.
Despite all this, the Patriots are likely to run the ball more than pass it against the Bears, who are 26th in the NFL with 4.8 yards allowed per carry. Defensive line play should be a major factor for both teams, as the Pats’ big boys have been stepping up lately.
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. Check out all of Matt’s content here.