Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater: 'I don't think we've played our best football yet'

Matthew Slater: 'I don't think we've played our best football yet'

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater didn’t think Thursday’s game was the prettiest he’s seen. Then again, perhaps he’s seen more football this season than he’s cared to. 

After spending the early going of the season watching from the sidelines with a hamstring injury as the Pats jumped out to a 2-2 start, the special teams star made his season debut Thursday in a 19-14 win over the Bucs. 

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It’s been a strange season for Slater, who was hindered by injury over the first four weeks and had to watch a worse-than-anticipated product while doing so. Now finally able to contribute, he’s one of a room full of players just trying to right the ship. 

“Obviously it’s been a little bit up and down thus far,” Slater said when asked to reflect on the 3-2 start. “I don’t think we’ve played our best football yet in the season, which is a good thing because we’re still sitting here with a winning record and there’s a lot of room for us to improve. 

“I think for us, we just have to strive to continue to be consistent. Consistency is something that we’ve lacked a little bit early on in the season. Hopefully, though, as we continue to progress through the season, we can build upon what we did last night and try to become a little bit more consistent. And that’s a day-to-day thing. It’s not a Sunday-to-Sunday thing; it’s literally a day-to-day thing.”

Given that the Patriots were coming off a disappointing loss to the Panthers, a win of any kind would suffice to prevent a 2-3 start in a season many believed could have yielded a 16-0 record. Though it was the Patriots’ worst offensive performance of the season, defensive issues that plagued the team over the first four weeks were corrected as the team allowed a season-low points. 

“That was an important game for us last night,” Slater said. “I thought we showed a lot of mental and physical toughness. I’ve said my piece several times on what I feel about Thursday night games in regards to player safety and health, but I think what we did coming off a tough loss, an emotionally draining loss, to come back and re-focus ourselves, get back on the horse and take care of our business, I think that said a lot about our football team last night. ‘Mentally tough’ was the way I described it last night and that was good for us.”

Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

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Patriots-Texans practice report: Gronk sits out; Gilmore limited

Wednesday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Texans game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle/concussion)
TE Rob Gronkowski (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
WR Danny Amendola (concussion/knee)
WR Phillip Dorsett (knee)
CB Stephon Gilmore (groin)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
WR Chris Hogan (knee)
LB Elandon Roberts (thumb)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)
WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)
DT Vincent Valentine (knee)

HOUSTON TEXANS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
G Jeff Allen (ankle)
CB Kevin Johnson (knee)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
TE Stephen Anderson (concussion)
RB Alfred Blue (ankle)
WR Will Fuller V (shoulder)
CB Jonathan Joseph (shoulder)
G Xavier Su'a-Filo (knee)
DE J.J. Watt (finger)

FULL PARTICIPATION
CB Marcus Burley (knee)
T Chris Clark (wrist)
WR Bruce Ellington (concussion)
TE Ryan Griffin (concussion)

 

Patriots-Chiefs inactive list: Slater, Ebner, Fleming out

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Patriots-Chiefs inactive list: Slater, Ebner, Fleming out

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will be without special-teams captain Matthew Slater (hamstring), fellow special-teamer Nate Ebner (shoulder) and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming (ankle) when they face the Chiefs tonight.

Bill Belichick's special-teams units take a significant hit with both Slater and Ebner out. Rookie linebacker Harvey Langi (concussion) would have been a kicking-game contributor as well, but he's also out of the mix. New special-teamers Cassius Marsh, Johnson Bademosi and Marquis Flowers should factor into Patriots coverage units against the Chiefs, as will Brandon Bolden, who was cut last weekend and recently re-signed. With Tyreek Hill and De'Anthony Thomas returning kicks -- two of the best in the league in that regard -- special teams coordinator Joe Judge's units will have a lot on their plates.

Flowers, Bademosi and Marsh aren't the only two newcomers to be in uniform. Receiver Phillip Dorsett, who came to New England in a trade for Jacoby Brissett, will be in uniform and immediately slots in as the team's No. 4 wideout with Malcolm Mitchell (knee) moved to IR. 

Here are the complete inactive lists:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
WR Matthew Slater
DB Nate Ebner
TE Jacob Hollister
LB Harvey Langi
OL Cameron Fleming
OL Cole Croston
OL Vincent Valentine

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
QB Tyler Bray
CB D.J. White
LB Reggie Ragland
OL Parker Ehinger
DL Jarvis Jenkins