The Patriots will be without three key players and potentially more Monday night in Arizona.
On Saturday, the team ruled out wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (concussion), cornerback Jalen Mills (groin), and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (foot). Mills and Wynn did not play against Buffalo in Week 13, while Meyers suffered a head injury in the final minutes of that game. The players did not participate in practice this week.
The Patriots also listed running back Damien Harris as doubtful as he continues to deal with a thigh injury suffered against Minnesota in Week 12. Harris, who missed last week’s game against Buffalo, did not participate in practice this week, either.
Offensive tackles Trent Brown (illness) and Yodny Cajuste (calf/back) are questionable after practicing in a limited capacity Friday and Saturday. Cajuste did not play against Buffalo, forcing newly signed Conor McDermott to make his Patriots debut.
The injuries certainly heighten the challenge for the Patriots, who are hoping to stay afloat in the AFC playoff picture.
Without Meyers, New England’s leading receiver, quarterback Mac Jones will have DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton as targets. Without Harris, the offense will continue to rely on second-year back Rhamondre Stevenson, the team’s leader in yards from scrimmage.
The skill position absences, however, are the least of the Patriots’ concerns.
The offensive line, which has deployed six starting combinations over the past seven games, continues to remain in flux. If Cajuste cannot play for the second straight week, then McDermott will likely start again at right tackle. If Brown and Cajuste are inactive, then the unit will have to dig deep in its depth because there are no additional healthy tackles on the 53-man roster. Offensive lineman Bill Murray is available off the practice squad.
Defensively, the loss of Mills will provide another opportunity for the younger members of the secondary to step up.
“It’s the traditional next-man-up mentality,” cornerback Jonathan Jones said Saturday morning. “Jack [Jones] has been playing some good ball for us this year. He’s been in there. After that, it’s just guys filling in, whether it’s Marcus [Jones] coming up and playing a little bit more, Myles [Bryant] staying in, me staying in and playing more, it’s just guys stepping up and covering those reps that Jalen had.”
The Cardinals, meanwhile, will be without offensive lineman Rashaad Coward (chest), wide receiver Rondale Moore (groin), and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (back). Defensive linemen Zack Allen (illness) and Jonathan Ledbetter (back) and safety Charles Washington (chest) are questionable.
Jones fined by NFL for throwing ball
The NFL fined quarterback Mac Jones $10,609 for his actions in the fourth quarter of the Dec. 1 loss to Buffalo. On second and goal with just under three minutes to go, Bills defensive end A.J. Epenesa sacked Jones for a loss of 13 yards. Jones then threw the football in the direction of Epenesa, hitting him in the leg, which the league later deemed unsportsmanlike conduct. No flag was thrown on the play . . . The NFL also fined Bills safety Damar Hamlin $4,806 for the late helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Meyers out of the game in the fourth quarter. Hamlin was ejected from the game.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.