FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots’ offensive line remains in flux ahead of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Center David Andrews and left guard Michael Onwenu were the only two fully participating starters during Thursday’s practice. Onwenu returned to action for the first time since getting placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list nine days ago.
Starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn, meanwhile, has not yet been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. If Wynn is vaccinated, he can return after testing negative twice, with each result at least 24 hours apart. If he is unvaccinated, he must miss a minimum of 10 days, which means his earliest possible return date would be Friday.
Even if Wynn practices Friday, playing Sunday would be a difficult task.
Second-year lineman Justin Herron was also absent from Thursday’s practice, out with an abdomen injury. Herron has started New England’s last three games, filling in for starting right tackle Trent Brown, who is on injured reserve with a calf injury.
Right guard Shaq Mason, who was sidelined all last week and missed Sunday’s game against the Texans with an abdomen injury, returned to practice in a limited capacity.
The Patriots used a makeshift offensive line against the Texans, with Andrews, Herron, Ted Karras, James Ferentz, and Yodny Cajuste. The unit fared well, playing penalty-free and allowing just one hit on rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
Offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo gave the players all the credit.
“I didn’t do anything,” he said Tuesday. “Those guys went out and played. Players win games. We got a good group — from everyone, from whatever you want to say, top to bottom.”
The performance should instill some confidence if any combination of Wynn, Herron, and Mason cannot play this Sunday.
A score to settle
Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers still has yet to find the end zone.
Against the Texans, he certainly got close.
At the beginning of the second quarter, with the ball on Houston’s seven-yard line, Meyers fielded a short pass from Jones and tried to fight his way past the goal line but was brought down at the one-yard line by Texans cornerback Terrance Mitchell.
So, did he think he was finally going to get in on that play?
“I was just making sure I didn’t lose the ball,” Meyers said. “I knew I would never get another chance if the one chance you do get it, you’re down there, and they punch it out. Oof.”
Then, at the end of the first half, Meyers found himself wide-open deep in Texans territory along the sideline. But he bobbled the ball before it ultimately bounced off his hands. He explained Wednesday that he lost sight of the ball in the stadium’s lights.
“It’s a catchable ball,” he said. “I still should have caught it. I just need to focus a little more.”
Meyers, now in his third NFL season after going undrafted, has recorded by far the most career receiving yards (1,390 in 34 games) and receptions (116) without a touchdown catch among all wide receivers in NFL history.
He is New England’s leading receiver this season, with 302 yards on 31 receptions.
“When the plays come to me, I just want to make them,” Meyers said. “Just trust in God, when that chance comes, I just have to make those plays.”
Running back Damien Harris was upgraded to limited during Thursday’s practice, after missing Wednesday’s session with the ribs injury he suffered against the Texans. Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (shoulder), special teamer Cody Davis (knee), safety Kyle Dugger (hamstring), kicker Nick Folk (left knee), cornerback Jonathan Jones (ankle), defensive back Jalen Mills (hamstring), linebacker Ronnie Perkins (ankle), and linebacker Kyle Van Noy (groin) were all also limited . . . Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, who leads the league in interceptions, didn’t practice for the second straight day with an ankle injury. Starting offensive tackle Tyron Smith was also added to the injury report with a neck injury.