FOXBOROUGH -- For the first time this season the Patriots admitted on a Wednesday -- the day the NFL requires teams to release their injury reports -- that a player would not play that week.
In fact, two players -- tackle Matt Light and reserve running back Kevin Faulk -- are out for Sunday's game against San Diego. Light has a broken bone in his right leg and a team source said Faulk has a broken bone in his left foot and could miss 6-8 weeks.
The Patriots yesterday signed free agent Amos Zereoue as their third running back and released receiver Andre' Davis, who was acquired from Cleveland near the end of the preseason but injured his foot in the last exhibition game and was inactive for the first three regular-season games.
Missing from the injury report is safety Rodney Harrison, the team's leading tackler, who was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury Tuesday, ending his season.
Second-year safety Guss Scott is likely to replace Harrison in the starting lineup. Rookie James Sanders (ankle) hasn't completed a practice since the regular season began. To shore up the position, the Patriots added free agent safety Michael Stone Tuesday.
As is the standard, there was little talk in the Patriots' locker room yesterday about injured and missing players. Actually, there was little talk period, as only a few players made appearances during the scheduled media availability.
Linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said the coaching staff's approach to replacing injured players makes it easier for the team to overcome the losses. ''It helps out when we have guys go down, that coaches continue to coach the guys that are there," Colvin said. ''So it gives the guys that are here a sense of support and gives the guys that are out there a sense that if [the coaches] can trust those guys then we should be able to trust those guys as players."
That trust comes regardless of who is on the field. ''If you're out there on the field you're expected to perform at a high level," he said. ''You've got 10 other guys depending on you. So if we can get all 11 players on the field to perform that defensive call, it doesn't matter if Rodney's out there or not.
''It doesn't matter if they bring back Andre Tippett. If Tippett goes out there and plays well, then we're going to be successful. We just have to make sure everybody's on the same page, and everybody's doing their job."
None of the players expected to fill the void left by Harrison were available yesterday.
Coach Bill Belichick shared a few words about Harrison's contribution to the team, but insisted the team's focus must be on San Diego. ''He brought a lot on and off the field," Belichick said. ''I have all the respect in the world for Rodney. I told him that when I brought him here and he's made great contributions to this team, no doubt about it.
''Unfortunately he had a tough setback last weekend, and so did the team, but that's the way it is. We're playing San Diego this week. Unfortunately he won't be with us. I wish he was, but he's not."
San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer, who elected not to re-sign Harrison three seasons ago, said Harrison's physical play is distinctive. ''Certainly the physical presence that he brings to a secondary is maybe something that will be absent," he said. ''I don't know Guss Scott that well. I know that if there ever was an intimidator in the secondary in the NFL, it was Rodney Harrison. That may be something they miss.
''I just hope that this thing works out and it is not a career-ending thing. As I saw somebody quoted today, I would never count Rodney Harrison out of anything. In fact, if people were ever to bet against him, it would be even greater motivation for him. I just wish him all the best and I'm hopeful that he is going to be OK."
Offensive tackle Brandon Gorin, who has been slowed by a thigh injury since the middle of training camp, is likely to be activated for the game.
When Light went down last Sunday, rookie Nick Kaczur was the only bench player dressed for the game who had played tackle this season. Kaczur has played both right and left tackle, as has veteran Tom Ashworth, who subbed for Light in the preseason because of the latter's leg injury.
Prior to this week, rookie guard Logan Mankins had not taken any snaps at tackle, even in practice, though he played tackle at Fresno State. The Patriots, as did most teams, scouted Mankins as a guard only.
Gorin said he's more comfortable on the right side, but could play on the left if he had to. ''[The biggest adjustment] is the comfort level of your body because everything's going a different way," Gorin said. ''Obviously you get good [pass] rushers on both sides."
Zereoue, who practiced with the team yesterday, was with Pittsburgh for five seasons. He spent last year with the Raiders.
Patrick Pass, who moves to second string, said his job as a reserve is to be ready. ''That's something I've always prided myself on, being ready when my number is called," he said. ''I remember like three years ago, we had a lot of injuries as well.
''You have a great leader in [Tedy] Bruschi, Ted Johnson, and Rodney Harrison, whose presence alone makes you want to go out there and practice harder. Not having those guys we rely on Tom Brady more, Don Davis, Willie McGinest, and [Richard] Seymour more. [Injuries] are not going to stop us from going out there and doing what we do best: perform well on Sundays."
Jerome Solomon can be reached at email@example.com