FOXBOROUGH — Although Logan Mankins has not been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Bills, it seems unlikely he will play after missing all three days of practice this week because of a hip injury. The left guard, along with nine other members of the Patriots, was listed as questionable on the team’s Friday practice report.
One of the other players listed as questionable was Rob Gronkowski, who was limited in practice because of a hip injury. Gronkowski’s possible absence would hurt, especially with the Patriots short on tight ends with Aaron Hernandez (knee) out and Kellen Winslow Jr. having been released. Tom Brady mentioned this week that the Patriots need to get the ball to Gronkowski more after he was held to two catches in last Sunday’s loss to the Ravens.
Mankins’s status is also a concern, especially against a strong Buffalo defensive line that includes end Mario Williams and tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. The Bills already have nine sacks.
Mankins played the first three games of the season, though he was a game-time decision against the Ravens. Given that he has missed all three days of practice this week, he is a long shot for Sunday. Players who miss that much practice time have rarely played under Bill Belichick.
If Mankins is unable to play, the Patriots have a couple of options. They can leave Dan Connolly at right guard and use Donald Thomas at left guard. They could also choose to move Connolly to left guard and put Thomas at right guard, where he started against the Cardinals in Week 2 when Connolly was out with a concussion. The Patriots’ offensive line has given up seven sacks this season.
Two other Patriots already have been ruled out after not practicing all week. Julian Edelman, who suffered a hand injury against the Ravens, and Hernandez, out since with an ankle injury suffered against the Cardinals, will not play.
Hernandez was expected to be out four weeks, though he was moving around on his sprained ankle without a walking boot or crutches this week. Edelman was wearing a soft cast after the Baltimore game.
Brandon Deaderick did not practice Wednesday, was limited Thursday, then did not practice on Friday. The defensive end is listed as questionable.
Belichick said he had a conversation with Winslow on Wednesday, one that resulted in releasing the tight end.
“We talked about several different things,” Belichick said. “At the end of that discussion, I felt that it was best that we release Kellen for personal reasons. So, that’s what we did.”
Not long after Belichick spoke on Friday, Winslow tweeted, “I would like to express my gratitude to the Patriots organization and wish them a great season. I’m lookin forward to my next opportunity in the NFL and continuing to play the game I Love!”
Winslow told reporters last week he was playing through a lot of pain in his knee.
Reed fined $21,000
Ravens safety Ed Reed was fined $21,000 for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Patriots receiver Deion Branch in last Sunday’s game, according to a league spokesman. Reed was found to have “struck a defenseless player in the head and neck area.” . . . Asked if he expected the pace of play to pick up with the real officials back on the job, Wes Welker said, “We’ll see. It does seem that way.” He added that he was looking forward to seeing familiar officials in Buffalo. “The best people should be out there on the field at all times in the NFL,” Welker said . . . The Patriots re-signed defensive lineman Marcus Forston to the practice squad. The team had released safety Cyhl Quarles on Wednesday. Forston made his NFL debut last Sunday against the Ravens . . . Running backs Fred Jackson (sprained knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder) were listed as questionable for the Bills, though it appears Jackson is more likely to play. “I think they both have a chance, a legitimate chance,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. Jackson told reporters he was optimistic about playing, and it was reported that he had been cleared to play by doctors.