FOXBORO, Mass. — Injuries have ravaged the New England Patriots’ receiver corps so much this season that Brandon LaFell is the lone healthy wideout to catch a pass from Tom Brady last season left in the offense.
Danny Amendola (knee) reportedly won’t play in Sunday night’s matchup with the Denver Broncos, Aaron Dobson (ankle) was placed on injured reserve this week, and Julian Edelman (foot) was ruled out Friday. That leaves LaFell and rookie Chris Harper as the only fully healthy receivers. Keshawn Martin, who has missed five consecutive games with a hamstring ailment, increased his practice reps this week, according to a source. He was listed as questionable Friday.
“More is expected of everyone on this offense,” LaFell said Friday. “We’ve lost a few guys these last couple of weeks, but everybody knows every week we’ve gotta step our game up and every week these games mean even more. Because hey, it’s crunch time.”
The Patriots potentially are playing for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs this week. The undefeated Patriots will compete for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the Broncos (8-2) and Cincinnati Bengals (8-2). A win over the Broncos would almost ensure the Patriots have a higher seed than the Broncos in the playoffs.
The Broncos have one of the best cornerback corps in the NFL, with Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby manning the top three spots. That should make things even more difficult for Brady, LaFell, Harper and Martin.
LaFell has 17 catches for 306 yards in five games this season. He began the season on the PUP list, recovering from a foot injury.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Oct 29, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell (19) on the bench during the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports