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Patriots Daily: ‘Questionable’ Injuries; Browns Win on TNF

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New England Patriots left tackle Trent Brown

The New England Patriots released their official injury on Thursday. There are 15 players listed on the injury report. But local sports radio was discussing how legitimate a few of the injuries are following the release of the report. Since Bill Belichick has not been up front about certain discipline actions this season, it has led to several conspiracy theories regarding the current crop of injuries.

Specifically, the players who received most of the attention were OT Trent Brown (DNP, illness) and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (DNP, ankle). There was also talk of WR Kayshon Boutte (DNP, non-injury/personal).  To be clear, it makes me uncomfortable to question anyone’s injury status. These are professional athletes playing a very violent sport. When I review film, I’m often surprised there are not more injuries. I have no inside information that any of these injuries are anything but legitimate. I am simply reporting what is being discussed in this instance. A quick look at those three in particular.

Trent Brown

Brown was outspoken about how the franchise handled Malik Cunningham being on the team, and the lack of opportunities he received to play quarterback. Those are not the actions of a man planning to stay in New England long term. Brown is a free agent after the season, and is near the top of the offensive tackle market. But he has seemed unhappy with both the team and the media at times this season. He has missed four games with a variety of injuries. He has played a limited role (non-starter) in three others.

Through eight weeks, Trent Brown had played 100% of the offensive snaps in six games. He played in 95% of snaps in another game, with one inactive in Week 2. The second half of the season has been a different story. Brown has been inactive three times. In the four games he’s played, he’s averaged playing in 59.5% of the offensive snaps, with none over 76%. Is Trent Brown saving himself for free agency? Is Bill Belichick disciplining him without letting the media now? I do not have the answers, but people are certainly starting to ask the questions.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Smith-Schuster had his best game of the season in his return to Pittsburgh in Week 14. He grabbed four receptions for a season-high 90 yards.  He has not played since. The Patriots listed Smith-Schuster has inactive against both Kansas City and Denver. He is was a DNP (did not participate) yesterday after being listed as LP (limited participant) on Wednesday with an ankle injury.

Again, questioning the validity of injuries is something that I am not comfortable with, but that is what is being discussed. Did the Patriots want Smith-Schuster to go out on a high note in the hopes of trading him this offseason? Is the wide receiver no longer engaged in the season, after helping beat the Steelers? Although unfair, these are the theories being banded about.

Kayshon Boutte

I’ll just say upfront that I will never question anyone being absent for personal reasons. It is such a broad designation that it could be anything. Whether it is a death in the family, a mental health break, or something else entirely, it is not my place (anyone’s place actually) to question what is going on. The rookie has only been active for four games this season, catching two passes for a total of 19 yards. Both Boutte and many New England Patriots fans would have liked to see more of him. Getting him in at the season’s end to show what he can do would be beneficial for both player and team. But again, the reason for his absence is unknown, so wishing it is not too serious and Boutte can return is the only thing to do at this point.

Browns Win Again

On Thursday Night Football, the Cleveland Browns took down the visiting New York Jets 37-20. It is the fourth straight win for the Browns (11-5) who have already clinched a playoff spot. The Jets (6-10) have now lost at least 10 games in seven of the past eight seasons. They last made the playoffs in 2010.

Also in today’s Patriots Daily: Von Miller denies allegations; Tyreek Hill vs. Colin Cowherd; ; and more…

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Fun Fact of the Day

The Cleveland Browns just clinched a playoff spot. They have used four different starting quarterbacks this season: Deshaun Watson, Joe Flacco, P.J. Walker, and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. No NFL team has ever won a Super Bowl with more than three different starting quarterbacks in a season.

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