Patriots-Buccaneers Preview: Which Injury List Players Will Play on Sunday?
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The New England Patriots' biggest problem in the first two weeks has largely been on the offensive side of the ball.
It's not surprising, given that the Patriots offense has suffered a multitude of injuries over the last few weeks.
Will Rob Gronkowski play on Sunday?
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com noted that the Patriots had ten players on their injury report heading into their Week 3 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: cornerback Marquice Cole, special teams players Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner, running backs Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington, offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Will Svitek, wide receiver Danny Amendola, and tight ends Zach Sudfeld and Rob Gronkowski.
Let's look at what impact these players can make on the Patriots home game against the Buccanneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. Eastern, Fox).
Who's likely to play?
Players who should be available on Sunday include Cole, who missed practice early in the week to attend the birth of his child, according to WEEI's Mike Petraglia.
Similarly, Ebner didn't play a down during the preseason, yet made the 53-man roster. He made his debut against the Jets, and barring a setback, should play on Sunday. Connolly was listed as limited Wednesday and Thursday with a "finger" injury. Unless it is particularly bothersome, the trainers should be able to tape up his hand so he can play.
Finally, Sudfeld, the undrafted rookie tight end who pulled a hamstring against the Buffalo Bills, was a full participant both Wednesday and Thursday and should be able to return on Sunday.
Who's likely to sit?
Slater broke his wrist in the Week 2 game against the New York Jets. He is almost certain to be inactive on Sunday, which will definitely be a blow to the Patriots' special teams.
Svitek missed the first two games with a knee injury, and was limited both Wednesday and Thursday. Expect the Patriots to give him another week to rest up before activating him.
Amendola is recovering from a groin injury, but doesn't appear to need surgery, according to several NFL.com reporters. According to Masslive.com's Nick Underhill, Amendola is moving "gingerly" in practice, so Patriot fans should not expect him to suit up this weekend.
Who's a game-day decision?
The Patriots only have three healthy backs on the roster: Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and James Develin.
Running back Leon Washington, who was cut earlier this season, is listed as limited with a thigh injury, while Brandon Bolden is limited with a knee injury. The Patriots are likely to activate one of them, if healthy.
Finally, All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski said he's "dying" to get back on the field, according to Nick Underhill of MassLive.com. He was limited in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and it'll be up to Belichick to decide whether to activate him.
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