The New England Patriots are most likely going to be missing cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe when they try to slow down wide receiver Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons.
“Stephon Gilmore [concussion] and Eric Rowe [groin] didn’t practice again today, so two of the Pats’ top-three corners missed the full week of workouts. It’s been at least nine years since a Patriot has missed a full practice week and then played in the ensuing game, so there’s virtually no reason to expect either to be ready for Sunday,” reported Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “Gilmore likely suffered his concussion on a third-down incompletion in the first quarter against Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans. The Patriots knew all week Rowe wouldn’t play against the Falcons. He has missed three weeks since aggravating his groin injury.”
Gilmore was also out last week, against the New York Jets, but it was a bit curious. He didn’t leave the game against the Bucs and he practiced before the Jets game. Concussions can be a bit tricky to diagnose, but that’s still a surprising amount of activity before suddenly missing a game.
That said, Howe doesn’t believe there’s anything else going on here, like head coach Bill Belichick using the concussion excuse to bench an expensive player who has not played up to expectations.
“To conspiracy theorists,” Howe wrote. “[Belichick] didn’t bench Gilmore after his best game of the season. Diagnosing a fake concussion would yield an NFLPA fight.”
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