— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 22, 2016
To be completely honest, Pats’ gameday is my favorite day of the week. Whether it’s a Monday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday, doesn’t matter. On these days I wake up thinking about the Patriots. I go through my day thinking about the Patriots. And then I get to watch the Patriots.
What could be better than that?
Anyways, tonight the Patriots will be squaring off against the Houston Texans, a 2-0 football team who looks like the favorite to win the AFC South.
There are certainly concerns when it comes to containing the Texans’ explosive offense, and relentless defense, but coming into this game, the Patriots concerns come mainly from within.
We believe Jacoby Brissett is starting. But who’s behind him?
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots have been preparing wideout Julian Edelman as the backup. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo in uniform. I don’t think there’s a chance he’ll get in the game, but I can foresee a scenario where he’s the emergency quarterback in case of injury to Brissett.
The Patriots list QB Jimmy Garoppolo as doubtful. He was once again a limited participant in Wednesday's walkthrough practice.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 21, 2016
He’s currently listed as doubtful and after being limited all week in practice, it doesn’t look like he’d be able to go at all. But the fact that he’s only “doubtful” and not “out” could be telling. After taking a hit like he did on Sunday versus Miami, I don’t think there would have been any hesitation to rule him out if it looked like he really couldn’t be available at all.
Now, don’t take that as a sign you should expect Garoppolo to be out there. I don’t think he’s playing in this game. Although beating the Texans with a limited roster would be nice, this game ultimately doesn’t mean that much. I’d think that the Patriots will ride Jacoby Brissett for the whole game, no matter what. If he gets hurt, that’s another story, but I think the leash will be long for the rookie tonight.
Along with Garoppolo, there are other key players listed on the injury report.
I don’t expect Jonathan Cooper to play. That’s not based on any reports or anything of that matter, but I’ve never heard of this guy being healthy. Not once. He was hurt in Arizona and has been hurt since he got to New England. I’m assuming that trend will continue.
Trey Flowers has been listed on the injury report for the past two weeks, but he’s played regular snaps in both games. I’d expect him to be out there tonight.
Jonathan Freeny was a surprise addition to the report this week. Normally I’d speculate that this is just a technicality, but according to multiple reports, Freeny was not seen at practice on Tuesday. Obviously that was two days ago, but it was a helmet, t-shirt, shorts practice and only a walkthrough. If an injury is enough to keep someone out of that, it’s hard to believe they’d be able to recover in such a short time.
Like Freeny, it’s to be seen if Eric Rowe can play. After showing up to Gillette on crutches last week, Rowe was inactive for Sunday’s game. He’s off crutches this week, but still has not been a full participant in practice. Besides that, there have been no further reports on his status, so it’s safe to say there’s a level of uncertainty as to whether or not he’ll play.
Dont’a Hightower returned to practice this week. I, and all Patriots fans alike, hope this means he’ll be on the field, but similar to both Freeny and Rowe, there have been no definitive reports regarding his status for tonight. Once something comes out, we’ll have it here.
And yes, I skipped over the most important player on the injury report, Rob Gronkowski.
#Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), who sat out the first 2 games, is a game-time decision. There's a real chance he makes his debut
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 22, 2016
Again, according to Ian Rapoport, Gronk is a gametime decision, a much better status than he’s been up until this point.
I think he makes his season debut tonight. In a hilarious, but also positive move, he tried to practice in full pads during a walkthrough, and he claimed he’s “satisfied” with how his hamstring feels. To me, that sounds like a guy who’s ready to play.
Obviously there’s a lot of wishful thinking going on there; I want Gronk to be out there for Brissett, but honestly, we’re closing in on five weeks since his initial injury, he’s gotta be close to 100%.
If he’s not, I don’t want him playing. Priority #1 is keeping Gronk healthy for Brady, but if he’s good to go tonight, it would provide an enormous boost against a defense that looks like one of the best in the NFL.
As more reports regarding the team are released throughout the day, we’ll have them here at PatsMilitia.
UPDATE: As I speculated, Jimmy Garoppolo will dress tonight & serve as backup to Jacoby Brissett.
I'm being told Jacoby Brissett will start at QB for #Patriots tonight. Jimmy Garoppolo will be active, but dress as his backup, per source.
— Courtney Fallon (@CourtneyFallon_) September 22, 2016
UPDATE #2: I guess I was wrong. Mike Reiss has now reported that Garoppolo is not expected to be in uniform tonight.
At this time, the Patriots are not expected to have QB Jimmy Garoppolo in uniform for tonight's game, per source.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 22, 2016