INDIANAPOLIS — When Nate Solder was lost for the season last week with a torn right biceps muscle, the Patriots put a plan in place to replace their big left tackle.
That plan included heavy doses of Marcus Cannon, who had been sort of a super sub across the offensive line during his time as a Patriot.
That plan may have to be altered. Cannon left Sunday night’s 34-27 win over the Colts with a toe injury in the first quarter and never returned. Cannon was seen leaving Lucas Oil Stadium without a noticeable limp.
Normal right tackle Sebastian Vollmer shifted to the left and was charged with protecting Tom Brady’s blindside the rest of the night.
Cameron Fleming, elevated from the practice squad Saturday, stepped into Vollmer’s spot and was solid.
Additionally, the Patriots lost defensive end Jabaal Sheard to an ankle injury in the second half and never returned. Sheard has been a standout this season, showing off his versatility by shifting from the outside to the inside and making a number of big plays. Sheard did not have a noticeable limp in the postgame locker room.
Matthew Slater, the Patriots’ perennial Pro Bowl special teamer, appeared to injure his right leg early in the game. He kept playing, but on Ryan Allen’s final punt, Slater’s ailment became worse and he was helped off the field by fellow special teamers Brandon Bolden and Brandon King.
He was spotted riding in a golf cart, presumably to go for testing, after the game.
Ryan impresses with versatility
Logan Ryan is often the forgotten man in the Patriots secondary.
Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler draws the opponent’s top target — and usually the most media attention.
The safety rotation features perennial Pro Bowler Devin McCourty, big-hitting Patrick Chung, and the versatile Duron Harmon.
The talk throughout the summer was who would play cornerback opposite Butler? Robert McClain? Bradley Fletcher? Eventually, Tarell Brown signed late and swooped in and claimed the job. They’re all gone now. McClain and Fletcher were cut. Brown (foot) has been sent to injured reserve.
But Ryan remains. And for good reason. He’s been very productive. Ryan, who has started the last three games, including Sunday night’s tilt against the Colts, entered with 13 tackles, including 11 solos, 2 interceptions, and 2 passes defensed.
Ryan’s value has not been lost on coach Bill Belichick, who appreciates the third-year veteran’s professionalism and versatility — Patriot hallmarks.
“Logan is one of our hardest working players. He continues to get better, and he’s played a number of different positions for us — he plays outside, plays inside, matches up from time to time,’’ said Belichick last week. “We’ve also used him at safety in the past and he does a number of things for us in the kicking game as well.’’
Ryan, who has a tendency to be a streaky player, has been pretty steady throughout this season and came up with big interceptions against the Bills (effectively ending the game) and adding another against the Cowboys.
“He works really hard at his craft, his technique,’’ said Belichick. “He’s a smart player, very instinctive, so that means every week, you’ve got to start all over again, learn the new receivers, learn the new schemes, adapt to that game plan and how to take the information that we have on our opponents and work it into what we’re doing defensively . . . He does real good job with that. He’s a very smart and instinctive player.’’
Ryan said he feels good about the way his season is going but is more concerned with how the team is performing.
“It’s going well,’’ Ryan said. “Helping the team. You know, with great team success, comes individual success.’’
Ryan said that, despite the game plan — and his role — changing from week to week, his focus and preparation remain the same.
“Get plenty of reps in practice,’’ he said. “And hope you can simulate it in the game.’’
Ryan also said the fact that the Patriots had to prepare for the possibility of facing either Andrew Luck or Matt Hasselbeck actually was beneficial.
“It’s not any more difficult,’’ he said. “There’s more to watch, but in the end, that will help us because we’ll be really that much more prepared.’’
Ryan had nine tackles, tied for the team high with McCourty, and one pass defensed in the win.
Debuts for Bostic, Melvin
New defenders Jonathan Bostic and Rashaan Melvin were active for the first time for the Patriots. A linebacker, Bostic was acquired earlier in the season from the Bears. He recorded one tackle. Melvin, a cornerback, was claimed off waivers from the Ravens last week. He recorded no stats.
They provided depth with Dont’a Hightower (ribs) inactive and Brown out.
Guard/center Ryan Wendell (illness) worked out hard before the game but was pronounced a scratch.
Other Patriots scratches included wide receiver Aaron Dobson, linebacker Rufus Johnson, and defensive linemen Khyri Thornton, Geneo Grissom, and Trey Flowers.
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft was asked if Sunday night’s game had special meeting in light of the Deflategate saga. “I think it’s the fifth game of the 2015 season for us . . . Nothing special beyond that.’’
Asked if he thought the Colts got off easy as result of the scandal, Kraft said, “I think we’re the AFC champion and they went home after that game, that’s what I think.’’
Kraft said his family’s relationship with the Irsay family, owners of the Colts, remains the same.
“We’re all partners in the NFL and when you have partnerships you have good times and bad times but at the end of the day, you’re partners.’’
As for his club giving up a home game to host a game overseas, Kraft said he favors whatever is best for the league.
“We would hate to, and never give it up voluntarily,’’ he said. “But the league has the right to take one home game, and ask you to host a game overseas, over the next, I think, 15 years.
“Prefer not to, [and] hopefully it doesn’t come down to that.’’
Receiver Danny Amendola had seven catches for 105 yards, going over 100 yards for the fourth time as a Patriot . . . Jamie Collins blocked Adam Vinatieri’s extra point attempt after the Colts’ final touchdown . . . New England has three players eligible to come off the PUP list and begin practicing this week: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell, linebacker Dane Fletcher, and defensive lineman Chris Jones . . . After the Colts’ three touchdowns, streamers and sparkling confetti were released from the roof. It’s Week 6.