SUBSCRIBE

PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

Chris Hogan won’t be available to face Broncos

Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Receiver Chris Hogan has been one of the best Patriot weapons in the red zone this season.

By Nora Princiotti Globe Staff 

FOXBOROUGH — The bye week wasn’t quite enough time for three Patriots, including wide receiver Chris Hogan, to rehab injuries.

Hogan, who hurt his right shoulder during the team’s Week 8 game against the Chargers, was ruled out of Sunday night’s contest in Denver along with defensive tackle Malcom Brown and right tackle Marcus Cannon, both dealing with ankle injuries.

Advertisement

It seemed unlikely any member of that trio would play because they were unable to practice coming out of the bye week. All three missed all of the Patriots’ practices this week, and Brown hasn’t played since the Falcons game on Oct. 22.

Without Hogan, Tom Brady will have to rely largely on Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, and the team’s stable of running backs. Hogan had been the Patriots’ best wide receiver in the red zone, an area New England needs improvement.

Backup tackle LaAdrian Waddle will face the tough task of containing Von Miller and Denver’s defense without Cannon, and the Patriots’ run defense will have to continue without Brown.

The Patriots also listed five players as questionable, including new tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder).

In addition to Bennett, wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle), defensive end Cassius Marsh (shoulder), and cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) were limited in practice and are questionable. Gilmore and Rowe were among those dressed and toting suitcases to the team plane in photos posted on the Patriots social media accounts on Friday.

Pumped for return

Advertisement

If Alan Branch really didn’t know that the Patriots had claimed Bennett off waivers Thursday, he was pretty much the only one.

“I haven’t seen that,” Branch said at his locker Friday morning. “But, he’s a good guy and a great player, so it’s always good to have him on the same team as you.”

Branch — seriously — has a no-sports policy at his house, so he was spending time with his family and not watching TV or scrolling through Twitter when the news broke that Bennett was returning. The 30-year-old tight end, who was released by the Packers on Wednesday, played on a one-year deal for New England in 2016.

On Friday morning, Bennett had a nameplate up above a locker near his old one from last year. He wore his familiar No. 88 out to practice, though it’s unclear when or if he’ll play for the Patriots; according to NFL Network, he has a torn rotator cuff.

Just the possibility of Bennett, though, was enough for his new (old) teammates who had gotten the news.

“I’m excited,” said Amendola. “He’s been my friend for a long time. We came in this league together in Dallas, so 10 long years. He’s a great guy. We’re all happy to have him back.”

On the field, Bennett would help the Patriots’ depth at tight end and potentially could improve the offense’s performance in the red zone.

“He can run and catch,” said Amendola. “He blocks well in the run game, obviously, and an all-around good football player.”

In the locker room, Bennett brings his boisterous personality.

“He’s a great teammate,” said Amendola. “He’s going to help us out a lot, as he did last year. It’s going to be fun.”

Amendola guessed that Bennett probably will take over his old job as locker room DJ, so expect an influx of Chance the Rapper and John Williams’s Harry Potter score. As far as in-season moves go, Bennett’s should be pretty smooth.

“He knows the system, he knows the environment, he knows the energy when you walk into the building every day, and he’s familiar with that,” Amendola said. “Marty B’s back!”

Elite company

Bill Belichick is one away from tying another legendary NFL coach in one of his favorite categories: wins.

Belichick, with 269 career victories (including playoffs), is one shy of former Cowboys coach Tom Landry on the all-time list. Landry’s total is third in league history, behind George Halas (324) and Don Shula (347).

The winning is in the details, Gronkowski said Thursday.

“Just how much knowledge he knows about the game of football and how much he can go into depth and the details about just one single play,” Gronkowski said. “That’s what puts him to the next level, get him all those wins.

“Just an unbelievable job of knowing the game of football and applying it to the players to help us out on the field.”

Belichick didn’t have much contact with Landry, but he recalled the challenge of preparing for Dallas’s flex defense. He then gave high praise to the Cowboys’ top personnel man during the Landry era, Gil Brandt.

“He certainly should be in the Hall of Fame based on his contributions to this game and contributions to the personnel and scouting side of it,” Belichick said. “He’d probably be the first guy I would put in there.”


Nora Princiotti can be reached at nora.princiotti@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter at @NoraPrinciotti.