Patriots

Cannon to IR thrusts Waddle, Fleming into key roles for Patriots

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Cannon to IR thrusts Waddle, Fleming into key roles for Patriots

FOXBORO -- The Patriots haven't had Marcus Cannon since Week 8. Now they'll have to go without him much longer. 

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The team announced on Wednesday that Cannon was headed to injured reserve with an ankle injury that he aggravated in a win over the Chargers on Oct. 29. The prospect of Cannon's return - a second-team All-Pro selection last season -- was an enticing one for the Patriots offense as his presence would have had a domino effect on the rest of the unit. Now the team will have to turn others at right tackle. 

For the last two weeks, the choice has been Cameron Fleming. In 129 snaps as a starter against the Bills and Dolphins, he's allowed just three hurries. Not bad for a player who has been third on the depth chart for the majority of the season at that position. 

The reason Fleming was called upon was because of an ankle injury suffered by LaAdrian Waddle in Week 12 against the Dolphins when Waddle was filling in for Cannon. As the starter from Weeks 10-12, Waddle allowed a combined nine quarterback pressures and no sacks. 

The Patriots have gone out of their way to keep capable depth on their roster at that position, and it's paid off. Should they need more, they could turn to undrafted rookie Cole Croston, who has spent the season working at both tackle and guard. Croston is an Iowa product, where he learned line play from head coach Kirk Ferentz (a former line coach under Bill Belichick with the Browns) and Brian Ferentz (a former Patriots assistant).

The Patriots needed to make a move to their 53-man roster Wednesday as Rob Gronkowski was activated from his suspension. 

Belichick's club made a handful of additional moves on Wednesday, making the Kenny Britt signing official and re-signing defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois. In order to make room for that duo, the Patriots released punt-returner Bernard Reedy and linebacker Jonathan Freeny. 

Freeny's release could be an indication that the Patriots feel as though Kyle Van Noy's return is relatively close. Jean Francois being back in the fold, meanwhile, could be a sign that there are concerns about fellow lineman Alan Branch's availability. Branch injured his knee in Miami on Monday and did not return to the game. 

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Brady calls on Denzel for help with AFC Championship Game hype video

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Brady calls on Denzel for help with AFC Championship Game hype video

Tom Brady's thumb is apparently feeling good enough for yet another pregame social media post.

This time, TB12 calls on Denzel Washington for a little help with the narration. "Remember The Titans"? No, that was last week. We're on to Jacksonville, remember?

The hype video uses Washington's 2011 commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania for the narration: 

#LFG

Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, January 20, 2018

Not to be outdone, Brady's BFF Julian Edelman, out all season after tearing his ACL in the preseason, provides the narration for his own hype video: 

Is it Sunday at 3 yet?

Report: Burkhead collision with Brady caused QB's injury

Report: Burkhead collision with Brady caused QB's injury

The culprit has been identified. 

NFL Media's Mike Garafolo reports it was Patriots running back Rex Burkhead who collided with Tom Brady at practice, resulting in the thumb injury that has throw New England in a tizzy over the quarterback's readiness for the AFC Championship Game Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. 

"Rex Burkhead was the running back," Garafolo said on "Good Morning Football." "They were colliding as they were doing some sort of handoff in a little drill. I don't know exactly what happened, but it resulted in a cut. There was blood all over the place and it was significant."

That jibes with the account told to NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran:

Brady’s right thumb bent back badly when he was smashed into by a running back. Somehow, the ball got jammed back into the webbing between his thumb and index finger and it caused a cut. Might have been the laces. There may be stitches. He’s not taking snaps under center. He can take them in shotgun. He’s trying not to aggravate the thumb between now and kickoff so the reps are at a minimum. He can throw. I have no idea how hard, how far or how accurately.

Brady is listed as questionable for the first time for a playoff game, but Garafolo reports that TB12 "should be good to go."

"Receivers [at practice] didn't notice anything different from what I gather," Garafolo said. "We'll see how much of a factor it is if he has to squeeze it into a tight window, but from what I am told he should be good to go."

Burkhead is also listed as questionable with a knee injury. He hasn't played since the victory over the Steelers Dec. 17.