It’s unclear what Bill Belichick’s rotation will look like, but it goes without saying the performance of first-rounder Mac Jones will be the main attraction.
We’ll also be looking to see if certain camp standouts, like Josh Uche and N’Keal Harry, can carry their momentum into a game setting.
The Patriots’ free agent investments, specifically their new pass-catchers, figure to be a focal talking point as well.
Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry could win over a lot of fans with a strong showing in their limited preseason reps.
Unfortunately for the Patriots, however, they’ll be without one of their new stars, as Henry sustained a shoulder injury at Sunday’s practice and is expected to miss a few weeks of action after undergoing an MRI, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Patriots TE Hunter Henry’s injury is unfortunately worse than initially perceived.
A “couple of weeks”? We thought this was nothing.
While it’s a relief Henry’s injury isn’t theoretically serious, this update is still worse than what fans expected after the initial reports came to light. Putting the reporter aspect a side for a moment, even head coach Bill Belichick called Henry “day-to-day” during his Monday media session.
Though veterans like Henry don’t need a full preseason slate to get ready for the regular season, we’d feel a lot better about his rapport with Jones and Cam Newton if he was available.
We know Belichick runs a buttoned-up training camp, but there’s a marked difference between simulated games and facing players fighting to keep their jobs in live action.
Assuming Henry isn’t available for the Patriots’ first two preseason clashes — the second will come a week from Thursday on Aug. 19 — fans better hope he’s cleared in time for Week 3. Like we said, jumping right into the regular season, which doesn’t even compare to camp and the preseason in terms of intensity, wouldn’t be an ideal scenario for Henry. It’s also not like Henry has been a beacon of health over the years; a small ding that’s already spiraling makes us feel a bit disconcerted.
If there’s a silver lining to be had here, however, it lies in the likelihood that Henry should be available for the season opener against Miami on Sept. 12.
Could it be worse? No doubt, but this injury marks the second time in as many months Henry’s gotten banged up. Back in June, he suffered a foot/ankle injury that sidelined him for a few practices, though he never left the facility to undergo more tests.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have the versatile Jonnu Smith, a borderline top-10 tight end in the NFL, to take over the majority of the snaps at TE while Henry recovers.