The Patriots will be without two of last year's defensive starters when training camp begins later this week.
Both Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch were placed on the physically unable to perform list on Monday. They are eligible to come off the list at any time. Once they are removed from the list, they will be eligible to practice fully. Players on PUP count against the 90-man training-camp roster.
Undrafted rookie tackle Andrew Jelks will begin camp on the active/non-football injury list. The Vanderbilt product dealt with knee injuries that kept him off the field each of the last two seasons.
Neither Hightower, nor Branch, nor Jelks participated in spring practices at Gillette Stadium. Hightower was present for voluntary work, but during practices open to the media he typically did some conditioning off to the side. Branch skipped optional team activities (as he usually does), and though he was in Foxboro for mandatory minicamp, he did not practice during that three-day stretch.
Hightower was limited last season with knee and shoulder injuries. The MMQB.com's Albert Breer said on Sports Sunday that Hightower's health concerns made teams reticent to make him offers that would lure him away from New England.
It's been over six months since the Patriots and Eagles squared off in Super Bowl LII, but fans on their way to Gillette Stadium for the teams' week two preseason matchup will have trouble getting the memory out of their heads.
According to Sports Illustrated, Eagles fan Gina Lewis, who lives in Massachusetts, placed a bet with her coworker over the amount of traction one of her tweets could get. The reward for surpassing her mark? A billboard outside Gillette Stadium reminding Patriots fans of their defeat at the hands of Nick Foles and the Eagles.
After launching a GoFundMe page to pay for the billboard, Lewis had a Philadelphia-based artist named Jordan Spector design it, which is now up at the intersection of Route 1 and North Street.
While the billboard will surely draw the ire of New England fans, it's hard to be too mad knowing that five is greater than one.
Tom Brady shed some light -- a little, at least -- on his future plans this morning.
In the first of this season's scheduled interviews on WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show, the Patriots quarterback said his long-term plan to continue playing into his 40s -- which he himself cast doubt upon with nebulous comments about the future on his Tom vs. Time show after the Super Bowl -- remains in place:
And, as usual, he wouldn't be drawn into any potential controversy about his contract:
As for the reported back injury he suffered earlier in camp?
Which means we'll probably see him in action Thursday:
Another talking point this offseason has been Brady's relationship with coach Bill Belichick, which has been speculated to be frayed. On the first of Belichick's weekly WEEI interviews, on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria, Monday night, Belichick downplayed any friction:
Brady himself followed that same path today: