FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s looking more and more likely the New England Patriots will be without two key players this weekend.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (knee) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) both missed their second consecutive practice Thursday.
If Hightower and Amendola still are not healthy enough to practice after being injured during last Thursday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Amendola’s situation is especially dicey, as he might still be in the early stages of the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Wide receiver/special teamer Matthew Slater (hamstring) also was absent. We’ll get a clearer idea Friday of whether any of these players will make the trip to New Orleans.
The Patriots currently have just three healthy receivers on their 53-man roster (Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett), plus two more on their practice squad (Demarcus Ayers and Cody Hollister). Ayers played in three games for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, while Hollister, an undrafted rookie, has yet to make his NFL debut.
Ayers also has experience as a punt returner — a need for the Patriots with Amendola out — while Hollister excelled in kick coverage during his college career at Arkansas.
Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine returned to practice after missing the previous Wednesday’s session and all of last week with a knee injury.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images