No downgrades, but no guarantees about who will play
HOUSTON - Bill Belichick didn’t give many clues this week as to how he would handle the lineup for today’s game. With a playoff berth already clinched, it could be an ideal opportunity for a few players to rest.
Not much was revealed yesterday, as there were no downgrades to report. So the watch for who plays and who sits carries on. Earlier in the week, Tom Brady said he approached Belichick and declared he wanted to play. According to Brady, Belichick responded, “You’ll play. Don’t worry about that. You’ll be playing.’’
But for how long remains to be seen. Brady was listed on the practice/injury report Friday as probable. He continues to battle right shoulder/right finger/rib injuries but did have a full practice Friday. Wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker were both added to the report and listed as probable but the reason was not injury-related in either case. There were 10 players listed as probable.
The only Patriots listed as questionable were defensive linemen Ty Warren (ankle) and Vince Wilfork (foot). Both were limited at practice all week.
Resting didn’t seem like an option many players wanted to take. The Patriots are riding a three-game winning streak for the second time this season.
“If you can get a little rolling start with a little momentum on your side, it definitely helps us because it brings the team a lot closer,’’ running back Laurence Maroney said. “You know, it just gets everybody riled up, and getting in synch, and playing together.’’
While a playoff berth may be settled, the seedings are not. If the Patriots win, they will hold the No. 3 seed in the AFC. But if the Patriots lose and the Bengals beat the Jets, the Bengals will leap to the third spot and the Patriots would drop to fourth.
“To be honest, I’m not really even thinking about the playoffs,’’ safety Brandon Meriweather said. “It doesn’t really even matter. Nobody knows who is going to play who. Nobody knows who’s going to win on Sunday, so right now, all the focus is on the Houston Texans.’’
Among those expected to play is tackle Nick Kaczur, who was inactive against Buffalo and Jacksonville while rehabbing a shoulder injury. Kaczur fully participated in practices all week and is listed as probable.
“I think we’ll probably see a couple of different combinations in there this game,’’ Belichick said. “A couple of guys like hopefully Nick will be able to play this week. We’ll see. I’d definitely like to get him back in there some if he can play, and Dan [Connolly] and Stephen [Neal]. Mark [LeVoir]. We’ll see how it goes.’’
Monique Walker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.