Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Why Patriots’ biggest injury concern this week is on the offensive line

Ryan Hannable
September 21, 2017 - 6:00 am

FOXBORO — For Week 3, it’s quite a lengthy injury report for the Patriots.

There are 12 total players listed, including some big names like Rob Gronkowski (DNP Wednesday, groin), Dont’a Hightower (limited Wednesday, knee), Danny Amendola (limited Wednesday, concussion/knee) and Matthew Slater (limited Wednesday/hamstring).

While all these players are key contributors to the team, and injuries could force the Patriots only to have three active receivers again, the biggest concern with the team for Sunday is the health of starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who missed Wednesday's practice with a concussion in addition to an ankle injury.

Cannon was questionable going into last week’s game with the ankle injury, but played every snap. Given he has a concussion, it doesn’t appear likely he will be able to play Sunday. Amendola had 10 days to get out of the concussion protocol before Week 2, and couldn’t do so. A week is a short time to get past a concussion.

Facing the high-powered Texans pass rush led by J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, the offensive line for the Patriots is certainly going to be tested. 

Without Cannon, this would have either LaAdrian Waddle or Cameron Fleming start at right tackle and going on past experience, that isn’t great news for the New England offense. It would appear if Cannon were to miss the game, Fleming would get the start and Waddle would assume the swing tackle role.

One of the biggest keys to beating the Texans is getting just enough time to throw and every second is precious. Since Houston knows the Patriots so well, it’s likely it would send extra players off the left side as much as it could to try and disrupt the Patriots offense.

The Patriots have proven they can win without playmakers on offense, but they haven’t proven they can win without a vital part of the offensive line.

If Cannon cannot play Sunday, it would be a huge, huge loss for the Patriots offense.