While the Patriots are staying in California for the week, linebacker Tedy Bruschi has returned home to Boston for further tests on his injured left knee.
Bruschi's left knee has been nagging him in recent weeks -- he's been limited in practices -- and the tipping point came when a teammate accidently fell on him with 14:04 remaining in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-21 win over the Seahawks. The blow knocked Bruschi out of the game.
The injury is not career-threatening, but it very well could end Bruschi's season because the Patriots -- with three weeks to chase a playoff berth -- might not have time to wait for him to recover.
What would the Patriots be missing without Bruschi?
First and foremost, a strong veteran presence. Bruschi has been a starter at the strongside inside linebacker spot in the team's 3-4 alignment, playing in 52 percent of the team's defensive snaps this season. He has mostly been a first- and second-down player, replaced in sub packages when the Patriots look to add more speed to the field in passing situations.
Entering Sunday's game against the Seahawks, coaches credited Bruschi with 69 tackles (36 solo), a total which ranked second on the team.
Bruschi's top backup for much of the season has been rookie Gary Guyton. Another option at the position would be veteran Junior Seau.