The New England Patriots are expecting a full roster of players for Saturday's playoff game, but injuries just continue to pop up and hurt practices heading into the game. As the team prepares to face off against Kansas City in the divisional round of the playoffs, they keep losing important players at practice, making things tough. With Julian Edelman back in action, Rob Gronkowski is the latest concern.
Gronkowski was mysteriously absent from practice on Tuesday. The tight end had not been on the injury report recently. The last time he was listed with an issue was when he was recovering from his knee injury. That did not appear to be a problem, until it popped back up as an issue. According to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Gronkowski has been limited with a knee injury originally suffered Dec. 20 against the Tennessee Titans. The tight end reappeared at practice on Wednesday and nothing has been said regarding the severity of the issue. While Gronkowski is expected to play Saturday, he could be limited.
Another player expected to be limited is Chandler Jones who was admitted into the hospital regarding a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. Head coach Bill Belichick noted that he was not certain Jones would be ready to play come Saturday and he was not counting on his usage.
"We'll find out Saturday. I could just Xerox you a copy of the game plan and you can send it over to Kansas City. That might be easier for all of us," Belichick said, via ESPN.com.
The Patriots are keeping their fingers crossed that both players are at full speed come the game on Saturday. One player not expected to be limited is Edelman who says he is at full speed following a broken foot. Edelman did not get on the field at all to end the regular season leaving many to believe he could be limited at best on Saturday. The receiver is making it clear that he is good to go as he and Tom Brady work on their chemistry before the game.
"We do work a lot together, and I know him and he knows me, but we still have to work very hard this week to make up on the ground lost. That's what we're going to try to do," Edelman said, via ESPN.com.
The Patriots have to have their best game against a red-hot Kansas City defense. Brady will have the passing game taken care of while Steven Jackson has the ground game resting on his shoulders. The veteran quarterback has been waiting for an opportunity like this. He thought it would come from the Atlanta Falcons, but now it is with the Patriots. After sitting out all season, Jackson admits there are some nerves heading into this game.
"The last 2-3 weeks have been a whirlwind, but I think getting ready for this week and realizing the opportunity ahead of me is one I want to be well-prepared for and take advantage of," Jackson said, via ESPN.com. "I understood this is probably the last opportunity that I will have a significant chance of winning the Super Bowl; now we're talking about why I decided to take [up] Coach on the offer. I know I don't have the most playoff experience around here, but the game of football comes down to being able to execute, do your job, and being able to do that [starts] with a great week of preparation."