FOXBOROUGH — Despite the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski last week, the Patriots are still in dire need of getting healthy.
With health and matchups in mind, here’s what we’re watching as the Patriots host the Dolphins.
1) Amendola good to go? — The Patriots wide receiver says he’s ready to go following a Week 6 concussion suffered against the New Orleans Saints. He’s been battling a groin injury and has missed four games this season. The passing game, ranked 18th overall, could use him.
2) How healthy is Aqib Talib? — The star Patriots cornerback appeared to be still hampered by a hip injury when reporters were present. He was limited all week in practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Without Talib, the Patriots lose the ability to shut down at least one of Miami’s wide receivers.
3) Point of emphasis for Patriots defense — The Patriots have a couple of ways to attack the Dolphins defense, mainly through pressure on the quarterback. The Dolphins have allowed 26 sacks this season, fourth worst in the league. But the Patriots will also have to somehow cope with a good trio of Miami wide receivers in Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and Brandon Gibson. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (60.7 completion rate, 9 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) has done well when he hasn’t been pressured. When he hasn’t been pressured, he’s completing 66.5 percent of his passes and has seven touchdowns and three interceptions. It’s pretty clear what the Patriots have to do. We’ll see if they can follow through.