The Patriots could be without Stephon Gilmore’s replacement for Sunday’s matchup against the former New England star.
J.C. Jackson, who officially was entrenched as the Patriots’ No. 1 cornerback when the team traded Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers last month, missed practice Thursday for the second consecutive day. Jackson is dealing with an illness, according to the team.
While Jackson still could return to practice Friday and play Sunday against Carolina, his back-to-back absences put his availability for this Week 9 contest in doubt.
Jackson hasn’t missed a game for New England since sitting out as a healthy scratch early in his rookie year (2018). He’s played 90.7% of defensive snaps this season — second-most among Patriots defenders behind safety Devin McCourty — starting all eight games and tallying three interceptions.
A Jackson DNP this week would put pressure on fellow starter Jalen Mills and likely fill-in Joejuan Williams to deliver against a Panthers team that, despite entering this game with major questions at quarterback, boasts one of the NFL’s most productive receivers in D.J. Moore.
We also could see the pro debut of Shaun Wade, who has yet to dress this season but returned to practice last week following a three-week concussion-related absence. The Patriots likely would elevate one or both of their recently signed veterans (Brian Poole and De’Vante Bausby) from the practice squad for additional depth.
If Jackson can’t go, New England would be missing all three of its initial projected starting corners, with Gilmore now in Carolina and top slot Jonathan Jones lost to a season-ending shoulder injury. Second-year pro Myles Bryant has been Jones’ primary replacement, with special teamer Justin Bethel rounding out the cornerback depth chart.
Jackson was the only player absent during the open media portion of Thursday’s practice. Offensive tackle Trent Brown, who is eligible to return from injured reserve, has yet to begin practicing.