The New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs both enter their high-profile AFC showdown this weekend with several injured players.
It appears the Foxborough Flu has mostly run its course.
After the New England Patriots were forced to use two team planes to fly to Houston for their game against the Texans last week – one with all the healthy players and one with all the sick players quarantined – only one player is listed on the team’s official injury report this week as still dealing with an illness, per the team’s website.
Poor Marcus Cannon was the first member of the Patriots to show up on the injury report as being limited in practice because of illness, and now he remains the last member of the Patriots to still be limited because of that same illness. Whatever it is the team was dealing with last week, he evidently got the worst of it.
Cannon is questionable for this Sunday’s game against the Chiefs because of his sickness. He didn’t let the bug sideline him the last two games against the Texans and the Cowboys, but he did miss some snaps against Houston to receive an IV drip.
Hopefully he’s almost fully recovered at this point; the offensive line certainly needs his stabilizing presence at the right tackle position, especially considering they’ll be down one of their other key pieces.
Center Ted Karras has been ruled out for the Chiefs game with a knee injury. Karras got knocked out of the Houston game with what is reportedly a minor MCL sprain; it’s unknown just how much time he’ll miss. Karras himself had been filling in admirably for longtime starter David Andrews, who is out for the year with blood clots in his lungs.
James Ferentz will likely start in Karras’ absence.
Patriots rookie defensive lineman Byron Cowart is the only other New England player who is already listed as out for this game as well. Cowart reportedly is dealing with a head injury, and his recovery timetable is also unknown.
The Pats also have two of their top wide receivers – Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu – listed as questionable for this game because of injuries to their shoulder and ankle, respectively.
Edelman has played in all 12 games for New England to this point; he’ll be out there on Sunday versus the Chiefs. Sanu missed the Dallas game after suffering his high ankle sprain against Philadelphia the week prior, but he returned to face the Texans last week. He, too, should be out there against the Chiefs this weekend.
On defense, safety Patrick Chung remains on the injury report… a place he has spent time on for most of this whole season. His chest injury apparently has healed, but his heel injury is still causing his name to turn up. Chung will likely play this weekend though, as he hasn’t missed a game since Week 11 versus the Eagles.
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is also questionable for the game against K.C. with a knee injury. He hasn’t missed a game all season for the Patriots and he was listed with the same injury this time last week against the Texans; he should be good to play through the pain again this week.
The most concerning injury for New England is probably cornerback Jason McCourty. The longtime veteran and twin brother of Devin McCourty hasn’t played since the Philly game because of a groin injury. The Patriots could really benefit from getting McCourty back this week, as they’ll need every healthy defensive back they can get against a dangerous Chiefs pass-catching corps that includes Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Mecole Hardman.
The Patriots also need to figure out who will be kicking field goals and extra point attempts for them this weekend. As of this writing on Friday, the team still does not have a placekicker on their 53-man roster. Nick Folk is a possibility if he’s healed sufficiently from the emergency appendectomy procedure he had last week; so is Kai Forbath, whom the team signed last week in place of Folk before releasing after the Texans game.
For the Chiefs, the most significant injury news occurs at the running back position this week.
Kansas City placed Darrel Williams on IR with a hamstring injury sustained last week against the Raiders, and as of Friday decided to rule out Damien Williams as well because of a rib injury. Down their top two options at RB, the Chiefs will go with a less-than-inspiring trio of LeSean McCoy, rookie Darwin Thompson, and former player Spencer Ware, who they just signed off the street this week out of necessity.
It’s fair to imagine that the New England defensive line and run-stoppers are licking their chops right about now at the prospect of matching up against these backups and fill-ins.
Kansas City also ruled out cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Rashad Fenton because of shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively. The Chiefs will instead turn to Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Kendall Fuller, and Alex Brown as their top-four options at cornerback. Strong safety Tyrann Mathieu could also be in store for an expanded role with so many of the Chiefs’ defensive backs out this week with injuries.
Kansas City’s big trade acquisition last spring, defensive end Frank Clark, is the only Chief listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots due to illness and a shoulder injury. Head coach Andy Reid has sounded optimistic with reporters that Clark will play – he’s reportedly making the flight to New England, too – but his status bears careful monitoring as we approach Sunday’s 4:25 pm EST kickoff.
Of note, Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady and Cody Kessler were both removed from Friday’s final injury report. Brady had been listed as a limited practice participant all week with injuries to his right elbow and toe, and Kessler had been limited with an illness. Presumably both are healthy enough to play this Sunday, along with fellow New England QB Jarrett Stidham.