ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Jerry Hughes probably hasn't had his name mentioned enough this week by those of us who cover the Patriots.
He's flown under the radar in the buildup to Monday night simply because his team is one of the worst in football. But he's been a thorn in the Patriots' side for years, and he's quietly performed as one of the best edge defenders in football this season.
In 12 career games against the Patriots, Hughes has 5.0 sacks -- more than he has against any other team -- and 11 quarterback hits. This season he's fifth in the NFL in total quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, with 36. PFF has graded at the top of their list of edge defenders for 2018.
What's it all mean for the Patriots? LaAdrian Waddle will be back in the spotlight for the second consecutive game.
CURRAN'S HARD TRUTHS:
Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who was limited in practice all week, has been ruled out as he continues to deal with the NFL's concussion protocol. Waddle, then, will take over starting duties yet again.
This is nothing new for the backup on Brady's front side. Waddle played in 12 games last season, starting four and performing admirably in one stretch against Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram of the Chargers, Von Miller of the Broncos and Khalil Mack of the Raiders.
What Waddle did against Mack last year, not allowing a sack in 15 one-on-one pass-blocking snaps, was part of the reason he was a go-to option for members of the Patriots media leading up to the Week 7 matchup between the Bears and Patriots.
For days, we speculated as to whether or not Mack would play and what kind of impact he'd have on the outcome as he dealt with an ankle injury. Would Waddle be able to hold up as he did the year prior?
The answer: Easily. Mack was clearly not himself, and he's still hurt. He was ruled inactive for the first time in his career over the weekend against the Jets.
Waddle will have his hands full with Hughes, though. Like Mack, Hughes sees the vast majority of his pass-rush snaps (95.3 percent) on the offensive right.
The buildup for that game within the game -- Patriots right tackle vs. premier pass-rusher -- should've had the same kind of buzz it did a week ago. It didn't because Hughes doesn't have nearly the same kind of name-recognition as Mack.
But Hughes is without a doubt a more dangerous threat to the Patriots offense Monday night than an injured Mack was a week ago.