FOXBORO, Mass. — Wide receiver DeVante Parker, cornerback Jalen Mills and long snapper Joe Cardona all sat out their second consecutive practice Thursday, putting their availability for Saturday’s Patriots-Bengals game in doubt.
Parker and Mills are starters on offense and defense, respectively, and losing them for another game would limit New England’s ability to attack downfield in the passing game and defend Cincinnati’s deep and talented receiving corps. Parker sat out last week’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders with a concussion, and Mills has missed the last three games with a groin injury.
But Cardona’s ankle injury is notable, too, as it could snap the longtime Patriots specialist’s streak of 127 consecutive games played to start his career.
The last time a player other than Cardona handled long-snapping duties was when Danny Aiken did so against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots selected Cardona in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft a few months later, and the Navy product has snapped for punts and field goals in every game since.
New England prepared for this possibility by signing long snapper Tucker Addington to their practice squad last week. The 25-year-old Addington played for the Houston Gamblers in the USFL and had a brief stint on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad in October.
With the NFL opting to play the bulk of its Week 16 schedule on Christmas Eve (Saturday) rather than Christmas Day, the 7-7 Patriots will not practice Friday before welcoming the 10-4 Bengals to Gillette Stadium. Both teams will release their final injury reports and game statuses Thursday afternoon.