Patriots Practice Notes: Two Offensive Captains Absent Ahead Of Raiders Game

Plus: The latest on rookie linebacker Josh Uche

by Zack Cox

September 23, 2020

FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and observations from Wednesday’s New England Patriots practice:

— Two key players were not spotted during the portion of practice that was open to reporters: running back James White and starting center David Andrews.

White, New England’s top pass-catching back, sat out Sunday night’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks following the death of his father. It’s unclear when he’ll rejoin the team.

Andrews has played every offensive snap through two games. The reason for his absence was unclear.

White and Andrews both are team captains and important pieces in the Patriots’ offense.

— Rookie linebacker Josh Uche was present after sitting out one practice last week and being limited in another with an ankle injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game.

The second-round draft pick was a healthy scratch in Week 1 and has yet to make his NFL debut.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Uche, a training camp standout, during his Wednesday morning video conference.

“We’ll see what he’s able to do when he’s able to participate fully on the field over a consistent period of time,” Belichick said. “Josh is a versatile player. He can do a number of things for our defense, as I’m sure you reported on in training camp. So we’ll just see how all that comes together when he’s able to string some days together in game-plan situations.

“It?s a little different than training camp because it’s so game-plan specific, but we?ll work with him when that happens and he’s willing to work hard. He’s a hard-working kid. He’s smart, and he?s very competitive guy. He?s willing to work with whatever we want to do.”

— The Patriots have been light at linebacker since losing Dont’a Hightower to a player opt-out and Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts to free agency this offseason.

With Uche yet to see the field and third-round pick Anfernee Jennings playing sparingly (11 snaps through two games), New England often has deployed safety Adrian Phillips as an inside linebacker alongside starter Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Phillips could be seen running through linebacker drills Wednesday.

Phillips has played 73.6 percent of defensive snaps this season, sixth-most among Patriots defenders. Brandon Copeland and rookie safety Kyle Dugger also have gotten looks at linebacker, with both seeing their snap counts increase dramatically in Week 2.

— The 1-1 Patriots will host the 2-0 Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images

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