ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Don’t plan on seeing quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday night if you intend to tune in for the New England Patriots’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
Brady didn’t participate in the final Patriots-Lions joint practice in Detroit on Wednesday, indicating he won’t play Thursday. Brady wasn’t the only Patriots player held out of Wednesday’s non-padded walk-through.
Here are some other key contributors we don’t expect to play based on Wednesday’s walk-through participation: Wide receiver N’Keal Harry, running backs Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and James White, offensive linemen Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon, defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Lawrence Guy, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower and defensive backs Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore.
Most of those players received quality reps through the week of joint practices with the Lions, making it unnecessary for them to play in the preseason matchup. We’d also be surprised if wide receiver Matthew Slater played.
Wide receivers Julian Edelman (non-football injury list), Demaryius Thomas (physically unable to perform list) and Cameron Meredith (PUP), tight end Lance Kendricks, safety Nate Ebner (PUP), cornerback Ken Webster (PUP and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (NFI) won’t suit up Thursday.
Interestingly, veteran wide receivers Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman also didn’t participate in Wednesday’s walk-through, although Phillip Dorsett did. Harris has been impressive in training camp and has a leg up on other competition to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster. Inman hasn’t been as solid, struggling to see targets in team drills. Dorsett has regularly been part of the Patriots’ first-team offense with rookie Jakobi Meyers.
Wednesday’s practice indicated the Patriots will still have plenty of starting competition at tight end, left tackle, defensive tackle and outside linebacker, with players like TE Matt LaCosse, TE Ben Watson, TE Stephen Anderson, LT Dan Skipper, DT Danny Shelton, DT Mike Pennel, OLB John Simon, OLB Chase Winovich, OLB Derek Rivers, OLB Shilique Calhoun, OLB Jamie Collins and DT Adam Butler seeing reps.
The Patriots also still need to settle their punter battle between Ryan Allen and rookie Jake Bailey.
— Harry was present and in uniform despite appearing to injure his right hamstring Tuesday. He didn’t participate in walk-through drills.
— Edelman, Burkhead and Thomas were present but not in uniform. Edelman had tape on his left thumb.
— Webster (PUP), Cajuste (NFI), Kendricks, Ebner (PUP) and Meredith (PUP) were absent.
— Chung was in a red non-contact jersey.
— Expect to see Gunner Olszewski on kick returns and Braxton Berrios on punts.
— We could actually see special teamer Brandon King play some defense Thursday. He came in as a linebacker/safety hybrid, covering a tight end.
— Thursday likely will be Danny Etling’s in-game debut at wide receiver. Etling played quarterback last preseason.
— The Patriots need to sort out the back end of their cornerback battle. JC Jackson, Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen and D’Angelo Ross all should see extended playing time against the Lions. Jackson, Crossen and Ross have been most impressive this summer.