Light at practice, but doubtful vs. Colts
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In an encouraging sign for the New England Patriots on the injury front, left tackle Matt Light, center Dan Koppen, running back Sammy Morris, receiver Julian Edelman, safety Brandon Meriweather and linebacker Eric Alexander were present at Friday's practice inside the Dana-Farber Field House.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said it was a boost to see a handful of injured players returning to practice, noting that some of them will be game-time decisions for Sunday's clash against the Indianapolis Colts.
"It was certainly good to see most of the guys out there, running around, participating," Belichick said. "Some of those, of course, will be game-time decisions. We'll see how things turned out after practice here and find out how these guys are doing. But it was definitely good to have them back out there, no doubt."
Belichick was not asked to specify which players would be game-time decisions, but it looks like at least one of them is unlikely to play Sunday. Light was listed as doubtful on the team's injury report Friday. Edelman (forearm), Morris (knee), Alexander (groin), Koppen (knee) and Meriweather (foot) were listed as questionable, meaning they each have a 50 percent chance of playing.
Also listed as questionable for the Patriots were linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (groin), defensive linemen Ty Warren (ankle) and Ron Brace (ankle), tight end Chris Baker (shoulder) and defensive back James Sanders (groin). Rookie receiver Brandon Tate (knee injury), veteran running back Fred Taylor (right ankle) and defensive lineman Jarvis Green (knee) were listed as out for Sunday.
Light has been out since the team's Oct. 11 loss to Denver with a right knee injury, Morris and Edelman have not played since being injured in an Oct. 18 victory over Tennessee and Alexander has been out since the Oct. 25 victory over the Buccaneers in London. Koppen left last Sunday's win over the Dolphins with an injury and Meriweather, who played every snap Sunday, had missed the last two days of practice before Friday.
In the locker room Friday afternoon, Meriweather was asked if there should be any concerns with his foot.
"I hope not," he said. "I came out and practiced today and had fun doing it. I hope everything falls into place like it is supposed to."
With Tate out for Sunday's game -- and perhaps beyond -- the Patriots might have to consider a roster move, such as placing him on season-ending injured reserve.
Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Sam Aiken top the receiver depth chart. With fellow rookie receiver Edelman having missed the last two games, depth could be an issue at the position unless the team taps into emergency option Matthew Slater, who is more of a special teamer.
Practice squad players Isaiah Stanback and Terrence Nunn would be top candidates in any roster moves. Stanback, a quarterback, has been expanding his receiving work in recent weeks and has impressed the coaching staff in a variety of areas.
Kickoff returns could also be a consideration with any potential roster move.
The Patriots have had running back Laurence Maroney, Edelman, running back Kevin Faulk and Tate as kickoff returners this season, but with a personnel shortage at running back, using Maroney and Faulk in that role is a bit risky. A few other options on the roster are Slater and cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley and Darius Butler.
As expected, two sets of speakers were set up along the sideline Friday as the Patriots prepared to work in noisy conditions in anticipation of a raucous environment at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Patriots traditionally practice indoors when preparing to play in an indoor venue.
The Patriots face their biggest challenge of the season on Sunday night, squaring off against Peyton Manning and the unbeaten Colts in Indianapolis. Patriots blog »
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