The New England Patriots offense has struggled through injuries: All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to play a snap this year, wide receiver Danny Amendola has been sidelined with torn adductor muscles according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, and running back Shane Vereen has been sidelined on injured reserve with a broken wrist.
All of them are expected back at some point in the season—Gronkowski possibly as early as this week, according to SI.com's Brett LoGiurato—but the Patriots offense has had to lumber on without them. The Patriots are happy to be 2–0 and are willing to take any breaks they can get.
Those breaks may include their next opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who may have to play on Sunday without their best safety, Dashon Goldson. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com reports that the NFL has suspended Goldson for one game.
The Patriots were actually interested in Goldson when he was a free agent in 2011. According to Greg Bedard, writing for the Boston Globe at the time, the Patriots offered him a one-year prove-it deal; ultimately, he signed with the 49ers, and spent two years with them before signing with Tampa Bay this offseason.
Over the past three years, though, Goldson has picked up at least five personal fouls for unnecessary roughness. The impetus for the suspension, though, appears to be the back-to-back personal fouls for hits on defenseless receivers. After Week 1, he was fined for a hit on a defenseless receiver:
Bucs safety Dashon Goldson fined $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jets TE Jeff Cumberland.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 13, 2013
“You had an unobstructed path to your opponent,” (Merton) Hanks wrote in a letter to Goldson informing him of the suspension. “It is clear that you lowered your head and unnecessarily rammed the left side of your helmet into the left side of your opponent’s head. You delivered a forceful blow with your helmet and made no attempt whatsoever to wrap up your opponent or make a conventional tackle on the play. This illegal contact clearly could have been avoided.”
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport also noted in a tweet that Goldson plans an appeal of the suspension, which might allow him to play this weekend if his appeal is upheld.
The Patriots can only hope that the appeal is denied and Goldson is forced to sit. Right now, the main thing the Patriots' young receivers need is to work on finishing plays (Dobson alone had four drops), and not having Goldson on the field can only help them. It might also make the Patriots a bit more inclined to activate Gronkowski, which would have ripple effects throughout the offense.
No matter what happens with Goldson, the Patriots will still have to deal with Revis Island on Sunday, so not having Goldson will be a big help.