FOXBOROUGH — Cornerback Duke Dawson on Thursday became the latest Patriots draft pick to get bad injury news, as the team placed him on injured reserve.
Dawson, who hasn’t been available since the first week of the preseason, has been dealing with a hamstring injury. He did not practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday.
The second-round pick, who played at the University of Florida, projected to play mostly in the slot. Without him, it’s possible that Eric Rowe will spend more time there, which could mean more reps for Jonathan Jones on the outside opposite Stephon Gilmore. Rowe and Gilmore are the starters, but Jones has had an impressive summer and that look with him on the outside and Rowe in the slot was used in the preseason.
Dawson is eligible to return after eight weeks. For now, his spot on the roster has been filled by wide receiver Riley McCarron, who was on the practice squad. McCarron provides depth as a slot receiver, which may be valuable while Julian Edelman is suspended, and he returns punts.
McCarron’s practice squad spot was filled by tight end Stephen Anderson, who caught 36 passes for 435 yards and two touchdowns over the last two years with in Houston. He originally joined the Texans in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of California. The 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pounder has played in 28 games with five starts since. The 25-year-old was released by the Texans last week.
The injury to Dawson is one of several this summer to Patriots draft picks. The team’s top selection, No. 23 overall pick Isaiah Wynn, is out for the year with a torn Achilles’. New England’s other first-round pick, Sony Michel, is still limited in practice with a knee injury. He isn’t on IR, but if he’s ready soon he’ll still have a lot of catching up to do. Linebacker Christian Sam and wide receiver Braxton Berrios (both sixth-round picks) and tight end Ryan Izzo (seventh round) are also on IR, leaving Michel, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (fifth round), cornerback Keion Crossen (seventh round), and practice squad quarterback Danny Etling (seventh round) as the only evidence of the nine selections the Patriots made in April.
Patrick Chung has often been referred to as a locker room leader by younger Patriots looking for guidance about surviving the rigors of the NFL.
Now the leader title is official.
Chung was one of six players — and one of two first-timers — named captains for the 2018 season Thursday. James White also got the nod for the first time in his five-year career.
Tom Brady earned the honor for the 17th straight season, along with Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater (eighth straight season for both), and David Andrews, who was chosen for the second straight year.
Chung and White take spots formerly occupied by Rob Gronkowski and Dont’a Hightower, both of whom were captains the last two seasons, and Duron Harmon, who earned the nod last year.
“I’m happy about it. I feel good about it. To earn the respect of my teammates — it’s a privilege to be a voice for them,’’ said Chung, a 10-year veteran now in the fifth season of his second tour in New England. “You know me, I’d rather just lead by example and do my thing, but it is an honor and I’m going live up to it the best I can.’’
Second time around
Having spent seven seasons in the AFC, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has a grasp on what makes the Patriots tick.
“Obviously, you’re facing the best quarterback of all time and possibly the best coach of all time,” Watt said via conference call on Wednesday. “You’re facing guys with a ton of experience, a ton of knowledge, a lot of skill, a lot of talent, and who work very hard.”
But opponents aren’t the only ones who find Foxborough a challenging environment. Those able to tough it out reap a huge payoff. Tight end Jacob Hollister is one of a number of second-year Patriots for whom it took time to acclimate to such a competitive team atmosphere.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Hollister. “I think that confidence comes with learning. I feel like the more that you learn, the more comfortable you get. That’s helped me a lot and [I] feel good going into the second season.”
Hollister isn’t the only second-year Patriot champing at the bit for Sunday’s opener against Houston.
Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was hardly a factor in 2017. After arriving in the trade that sent backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to Indianapolis, Dorsett endured an unrewarding, establishing career lows in catches (12) and receiving yards (194).
Adding to the difficulty for Dorsett was that the trade occurred on Sept. 2, just five days before the season opener. This season, Dorsett has been able to prepare at a less frantic pace.
“Can’t wait to go out and just play,” he said. “[It’s about] getting used to the tempo, getting used to playing a whole game, because none of us have played a whole game yet this year. It’s a big adrenaline rush.”
Don’t be fooled by the hype surrounding his running ability, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t a slouch slinging the ball, either.
As a rookie last season, Watson made a positive impression on a number of Patriots. Though the Texans lost that meeting in September, 36-33, Watson threw for 301 yards and added more than five yards per carry on eight scrambles or designed runs.
“I think sometimes if a guy can run, you forget about him as a passer,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “To me, when you turn on the film, whether he’s running [or] he’s on one leg, he’s throwing the ball 60 yards downfield, he’s putting the ball in tight windows. The thing we’re preparing for is how [good] he is as a passer, putting the ball in tough spots.”
Defensive lineman Trey Flowers doesn’t have the luxury of ignoring Watson’s dynamic running ability.
“[Watson is] able to make plays with his feet, extend the pocket, and buy some time for some guys to get open,” said Flowers. “As a front, you want to keep him in the pocket and then if [he] does break out, because he’s such a great player and has such a good skill level, we’ve got to continue to pressure him.”
Dawson was the only Patriot not to participate in Thursday’s walkthrough in the field house behind Gillette Stadium . . . Hollister (hamstring) and Michel (knee) were the only limited participants, while Bentley (illness) returned to full strength . . . Cornerback Stephon Gilmore said he was going to watch Thursday night’s game between the Falcons and Eagles to “see how they’re calling stuff.”
Jim McBride of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Owen Pence contributed to this report.