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After ruling out cornerback Jonathan Jones and rookie Sidy Sow en route to New Jersey, the remaining Patriots carrying questionable designations are all officially active for Sunday’s contest against the Jets.
Along with the two Saturday downgrades, the Patriots inactives would be deemed healthy scratches rather than injury-related. New England’s inactives are as follows: CB Jonathan Jones (ankle), OL Sidy Sow (concussion), WR Kayshon Boutte, and OT Tyrone Wheatley. The team also designated newcomer Will Grier as the emergency quarterback. Cole Strange (knee), Michael Onwenu (ankle), and Christian Barmore (knee) are all active after carrying questionable designations into the game.
Although they’ll be short-handed in the secondary down all three Joneses, the good news is that the Patriots projected starting offensive line is active together for the first time this season. New England removed OT Trent Brown from its injury report, and the starting left tackle is officially active after missing last week’s game vs. Miami with a concussion. Starting guards Cole Strange (knee) and Michael Onwneu (ankle) are also active for the second consecutive week after being listed as questionable on the final injury report on Friday.
With their top left tackle and guards healthy for the first time this season, the Patriots starting offensive line should look like this: LT Trent Brown, LG Cole Strange, C David Andrews, RG Mike Ownenu, RT Calvin Anderson. Following a bumpy start to the year after missing training camp with a non-football illness, Anderson’s leash could be shorter this week as Vederian Lowe made a positive impression as the starting left tackle in Week 2.
New England’s offensive line ranks dead-last in PFF run-blocking grade and 25th in pass-blocking efficiency, with 35 quarterback pressures allowed in the first two games (third-most in NFL). This week, the competition won’t get any easier against a Jets defensive front that’s among the best in the league. For the Patriots to get their rushing attack rolling while finding more big plays through the air, this is a massive game for O-Line coach Adrian Klemm’s now healthy group.
One more note on the offense is that rookie wide receiver Kayshon Boutte is inactive for the second-straight week. Following a reduced role after fumbling early in last week’s loss to the Dolphins, fellow rookie Demario Douglas is active. Boutte hasn’t cracked the game-day roster since having a shaky regular-season opener where he failed to keep his feet in bounds on two occasions along the sideline, including a fourth down target to end the game. Boutte has potential as a catch-and-run threat, but with a logjam of Z/slot receivers, the team might view him as an inside receiver following his struggles at the X spot in Week 1.
Moving over to the defense, New England’s secondary is down all three Joneses, with Jonathan Jones (ankle, out), Marcus Jones (IR), and Jack Jones (IR) unavailable this week. Given that the veteran Jones wasn’t moved to in-season injured reserve like the second-year CBs, the hope is his injury isn’t viewed as a long-term issue.
Still, the Patriots must continue their dominance over Jets backup QB Zach Wilson with a banged-up cornerback room. Most likely, DB Myles Bryant will play alongside standout rookie Christian Gonzalez as an outside corner in two-CB packages and the top slot/nickel, while veteran Jalen Mills might bump back to corner from his current focus as a safety. New England could also turn to third-year CB Shaun Wade in a slot/nickel role, where Wade looked more at home in the summer, or rookie special-teamer Ameer Speed as depth options.
Besides star receiver Garrett Wilson, who likely has a showdown with Gonzalez on tap, we aren’t talking about a very dangerous Jets passing attack with Wilson now back under center. The Patriots need a win in the Meadowland to avoid 0-3, but this is not a matchup to be overly concerned about injuries at cornerback. As we know, the Pats are 4-0 against Wilson while intercepting him seven times and holding the Jets QB to a 50.9 rating.
The conservative approach with starting corner Jonathan Jones is likely taking a long-term view as next week’s matchup in Dallas presents a much more formidable test defensively. The Patriots have a full contingent of pass rushers with Barmore active to bring out Wilson’s issues under pressure, even with a secondary missing key pieces.
For the Jets, stud defensive end John Franklin-Myers is officially active after carrying a questionable designation due to a hip injury. The Jets placed starting left tackle Duane Brown on injured reserve on Saturday, so Brown won’t play.
Lastly, the Patriots and Jets will battle the elements in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday afternoon. Currently, the forecast calls for rain and winds at around 10-15 MPH with temps in the low 60s as a tropical storm hits the east coast. Although the storm won’t directly hit MetLife Stadium, weather could be a factor in the game.
The Patriots will try to extend their 14-game winning streak over the Jets in the rainy Meadowlands on Sunday with kickoff at 1 p.m. ET.
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