We’ll know more when the injury report is released later this afternoon, but at this point, it seems fairly certain the Patriots will be without starting right tackle Marcus Cannon this weekend. The veteran was not spotted at the start of Friday’s practice, and if he ends up taking the DNP, it’ll mark his third straight missed practice, which would almost certainly mean he’ll be inactive Sunday against the Bears.
UPDATE, 4 p.m.: Cannon has been officially been ruled out. Here's the complete injury report for both teams:
Rob Gronkowski's back is new, and while we don't know the extent of the injury, Gronkowski does have a history of back woes, which should raise a bit of a red flag.
As for Cannon, he left last Sunday’s game against the Chiefs early with what the team announced as a concussion. LaAdrian Waddle saw the bulk of the reps in place of Cannon, and he'll likely be the one to step in this week against Chicago and Khalil Mack.
“He’s a guy who goes out and he plays real hard each play,” Waddle said of Mack on Wednesday. “He gives great effort. He’s one of those guys you’re going to have to block through the whistle, because he’s not going to turn it down until the play is over.
“He’s a guy who can give you different kind of moves. He can rush with speed or power. So I’ve just got to be ready to roll, come out and play with great technique and let that take care of itself.”
It also appears that after a limited appearance Friday, Khalil Mack is at least going to give it a go.
Bill Belichick has never been much for individual stats, and said as much again on Friday. The coach was asked about a somewhat slower statistical start than usual for Rob Gronkowski, and he left no doubt as to where he stood.
“We’re really just worried about this game,” he said. “Try to go out there and beat Chicago, so that's what we're going to focus on. If we score enough points and hold them to fewer, then we'll win. That's the goal.
“Our goal is not to go out there and create stats for an individual player. We just don't think that way. We try to go out and win the game, so whatever we need to do to win the game then that's what our goal is. Our goal is not to create individual stats. That's just not how we do it.”
Belichick was asked if it complicated matters when stats are built into a players’ contract, which is the case for Gronkowski and Tom Brady.
“Again, our goal is the same as it's always been,” he replied. “I think Tom, and Rob, and everybody else on this team, Devin (McCourty), and Pat (Chung) and everybody else – they come in here and work hard to try to go out and compete well and win games. You'd have to ask other people that question. I don't know. Our goal is to win games. Other people have other agendas, but that's not ours.”
More updates throughout the afternoon...