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Patriots notebook

Welker exits after injuring neck

Lions running back Aaron Brown scoots past Patriots safety James Ihedigbo (43) for a touchdown in the second quarter. Lions running back Aaron Brown scoots past Patriots safety James Ihedigbo (43) for a touchdown in the second quarter. (Rick Osentoski/Associated Press)
By Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 28, 2011

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DETROIT - As if their poor play wasn’t enough of a concern, the Patriots suffered a number of injuries in last night’s loss to the Lions.

The most worrisome was to Wes Welker, who hurt his neck while tackling Lions rookie Ricardo Silva after his interception of Tom Brady in the second quarter.

Welker did not return, though in the preseason it is tougher to assess how serious an injury is because it’s unknown whether the player would have returned to a regular-season game.

Afterward, coach Bill Belichick said he did not have an update on Welker.

Guard Dan Connolly rolled his right ankle near the end of the first quarter. He limped out of the locker room after the game wearing a compression sock.

If Connolly’s ankle causes him to miss any time, rookie Nate Solder could be called upon to step in at right guard. Solder has taken some snaps there during camp, though last night only played left tackle.

Other Patriots who left the game because of injury were receiver Julian Edelman, who appeared to have his hand looked at, and cornerback Jonathan Wilhite, who was slow to get up after colliding with a teammate while breaking up a pass.

Light returns Matt Light got his first game action of the preseason, starting at left tackle.

The veteran, who underwent offseason surgery on his right shoulder, was worked in slowly during camp as the training staff made sure his shoulder was strong enough to tussle with defensive linemen. On Thursday, Belichick said Light was close to playing in a game. Light played some but not all of the first half, and was replaced by Solder.

Solder started the first two preseason games at left tackle, and last week in Tampa Bay surrendered a sack of Brady in the second quarter.

Defensively, the Patriots started the game in the nickel, with James Sanders, also seeing his first exhibition action, at safety with Brandon Meriweather, and Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, and Darius Butler at cornerback. Vince Wilfork and Myron Pryor were the tackles, with Rob Ninkovich and Mark Anderson the ends. Linebackers Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo rounded out the starting 11. Sanders practiced all week after returning from a hamstring injury suffered early in camp.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked off for the first time this preseason. Gostkowski suffered a torn quadriceps last season in Cleveland, and though he had been practicing kickoffs during the offseason while he trained in Memphis, he did not during camp. New England brought in former UMass kicker Chris Koepplin, who handled kickoffs before last night.

Plans are fluid Hurricane Irene’s path meant uncertain travel conditions for the Patriots last night. The team was scheduled to leave here after the game in hopes of beating any treacherous weather. But if they were unable to return to New England, they had a plan to stay outside the area . . . This will be an important week of preparation for the Patriots, who play their final preseason game Thursday against the Giants at Gillette Stadium. Many players will be competing for roster spots. On Tuesday, NFL teams must cut rosters from 90 players to 80. The final roster cutdown to 53 will be Sept. 3.

The out crowd The following players did not participate in last night’s game: CB Ras-I Dowling, RB Stevan Ridley, CB Leigh Bodden, RB Shane Vereen, DB Josh Barrett, RB Kevin Faulk, DB Malcolm Williams, RB Eric Kettani, LB Jeff Tarpinian, LB Dane Fletcher, LB Brandon Spikes, OL Marcus Cannon, OL Ryan Wendell, DL Brandon Deaderick, DL Albert Haynesworth, LB Jermaine Cunningham, DL Ron Brace, and DL Mike Wright . . . The Lions played without first-round pick Nick Fairley. The defensive tackle underwent surgery for a broken bone in his foot just days into camp. He is expected to play in the regular season. They were also without defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (shoulder) and running back Jahvid Best (concussion) . . . Detroit signed center Chris Morris after he was released by the Patriots last week.

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