By Gregory Hunt
Quarterback Tom Brady is listed on this week’s injury report for the New England Patriots, but there’s no reason to panic. With the exception of the 15 games he missed in 2008 after suffering torn ligaments in his left knee, Brady has not missed a start in his entire career since becoming the starter in 2001. Brady had a streak of 111 consecutive starts before that injury, and he has started 80 consecutive games since then.
Officially, his current affliction is listed as a calf injury, and his status is questionable for Sunday’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Brady did not practice with the team on Thursday, which created some wild speculation on social media, but during a radio interview that night he said, “Physically I had the day off, but I got a lot of extra film in. I got a lot of extra mental reps in and walk-throughs and such and I’ll be ready to go Sunday.” He returned to practice on Friday. Brady also sat out a team practice last January prior to last season’s AFC Championship Game, but he started the game as usual.
The only other player from New England’s offense that appears on the injury report is tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has played in only 18 of the past 32 regular season games due to a variety of injuries. Gronkowski suffered tears to his right ACL and MCL last December in a game against the Cleveland Browns and is hoping to play a full season for the first time since 2011. He was cleared for contact drills just two weeks ago and his participation in practice has been limited this week. Even though Gronkowski was quoted earlier this week as saying he’s ready to play, he is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
On defense, all of the injuries listed on this week’s report are along the defensive line. Michael Buchanan and Chris Jones are listed with ankle injuries while Sealver Siliga has a hand injury. All three players are in their second year with the Patriots, but none of them were expected to be starters, even though all three received extensive playing time last year. Thanks to a number of injuries to last year’s defensive unit, Jones started 11 of 13 games in which he played while Siliga, who was acquired in mid-season, started four of his five games with the Patriots. Buchanan, a seventh-round pick by New England in 2013, did not start last year but played in 15 games. All three lineman are listed as questionable and may be inactive for Sunday’s game.
New England’s projected starting defensive line includes Joe Vellano, Chandler Jones and 11-year veteran Vince Wilfork, who is returning from a torn Achilles tendon that limited him to four games last season. Rob Ninkovich is officially listed as a defensive end on New England’s depth chart, but he’ll also spend a lot of time at the outside linebacker position depending on whether defensive coordinator Matt Patricia wants to use a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. As long as this unit stays healthy, New England’s performance on defense should improve significantly over last year’s.
Tom Brady (calf)
Rob Gronkowski (knee)
Michael Buchanan (ankle)
Chris Jones (ankle)
Sealver Siliga (hand)
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Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on Examiner.com.