Patriots Hurting at Linebacker With Absence of Jeff Tarpinian, While Devin McCourty Misses Third Practice


FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots' linebacker depth took another hit Friday.

Rookie Jeff Tarpinian, who made his first career start Sunday against the Jets, missed practiced with an illness.

The Patriots also practiced without cornerback Devin McCourty, linebacker Brandon Spikes and linebacker Dane Fletcher, all three of whom have been out all week. If they don't participate in Saturday's practice, it would be a near certainty that they wouldn't play Monday night against the Chiefs.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo's knee has improved over each of the last three games, but there's not much depth alongside him. Without Spikes and Fletcher against the Jets, Tarpinian and Tracy White rotated at linebacker next to Mayo. Gary Guyton, who started earlier in the season, was presumably benched against the Jets, as he didn't see the field for a single snap.

Tarpinian and White have been special teamers by trade, and linebacker Niko Koutouvides, who was signed last week, fits the same role.

If Spikes, Fletcher and Tarpinian can't play against the Chiefs, the Patriots' depth at linebacker will surely be tested once again.

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