Injury Report: Patriots Resting Several Injured Players Against Dolphins
By Gregory Hunt
Going into the final week of the NFL regular season, the number-one seed for the AFC playoffs is still up for grabs. The New England Patriots are still in contention for that seed, needing a win over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Sunday to clinch it; but although home field advantage has not been determined, the Patriots have already clinched a first-round playoff bye. Several key players will sit out Sunday's game against Miami, getting an extra week to recover from their injuries before the divisional playoff round.
One player that won't suit up against Miami is wide receiver Julian Edelman, who didn't make the trip from Foxboro to South Florida. Edelman was expected to miss the rest of the regular season after undergoing surgery for a foot fracture in November, but he has been conducting limited practices with the team for three weeks. By the time he takes the field for New England's first playoff game, it will have been almost nine weeks since his surgery.
Another starter that is out for Sunday's game is left tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who suffered an ankle injury during last week's 26-20 overtime loss to the New York Jets. Newly-acquired LaAdrian Waddle will likely start in his place despite a shoulder injury he suffered in the same game, but if Waddle is unable to go, look for Cameron Fleming to take his place.
Wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell are also dealing with injuries, and they are both listed as questionable against the Dolphins. Amendola saw action in the first half of the Jets game, but he was quickly sidelined after aggravating a nagging knee injury. Keshawn Martin took over Amendola's kick and punt return duties, and he also caught seven passes for 68 yards against the Jets. LaFell started against the Jets despite a foot injury, but he made only one catch for 19 yards on his only target.
Three key players on defense will miss the Dolphins game -- defensive end Chandler Jones (abdomen/toe) and linebackers Jonathan Freeny (hand) and Dont'a Hightower (knee). Both Jones and Hightower saw action against the Jets, but Freeny hasn't played since suffering his injury during Week 14. Jamie Collins and Jerod Mayo will likely start at linebacker, and Jon Bostic and Darius Fleming should also be available. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich is listed as questionable with a shin injury, but it seems unlikely that he'll break his current streak of playing in 112 consecutive games (including the playoffs).
New England's starting safeties, Patrick Chung (foot) and Devin McCourty (ankle), were both inactive last week, but they are listed as questionable this week. Both of them were sorely missed against the Jets, as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns against the New England defense.
Danny Amendola, wide receiver (knee)
Scott Chandler, tight end (knee)
Patrick Chung, safety (foot)
Josh Kline, guard (shoulder)
Brandon LaFell, wide receiver (foot)
Devin McCourty, safety (ankle)
Rob Ninkovich, defensive end (shin)
LaAdrian Waddle, tackle (shoulder)
Justin Coleman, cornerback (concussion)
Julian Edelman, wide receiver (foot)
Jonathan Freeny, linebacker (hand)
Dont'a Hightower, linebacker (knee)
Chandler Jones, defensive end (abdomen/toe)
Sebastian Vollmer, tackle (ankle)
Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He's also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women's college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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