The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens are two of the fiercest competitors in the league, and both teams are locked in battles for key playoffs spots. While the Ravens are in a huge battle with the Miami Dolphins for the final seed in the AFC, the Patriots are trying to grasp a playoff bye. If the Patriots and Dolphins win today, then the Ravens would be eliminated from playoff contention. Fortunately for the Ravens, the Patriots are dealing with two more tough injuries.
According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots have downgraded both star left tackle Nate Solder and rookie wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins from “questionable” to “out”. Thompkins was always seen as a toss-up to play in today’s game, and he will officially miss his third straight game with a hip injury that seems very slow to heal. Josh Boyce is also out, leaving Marshall rookie Aaron Dobson as the “X” receiver. However, having Dobson starting at the “X” is honestly better than having Boyce starting (he played there the last two weeks), so the Patriots will be fine at that spot.
Nate Solder’s injury, though, is extremely worrisome, especially since the Ravens have one of the best pass rushing duos in Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. Solder is also one of the most athletic tackles in the game, and he’s excellent at moving out and blocking defenders to help Shane Vereen get loose on screen passes. And maybe more importantly, he is an elite run blocker, so his loss is even better news for Suggs.
It’s been a rough month of December for Solder, who will miss his first game after suffering back-to-back concussions in the past two games. He was initially expected to play this week after returning to practice on Thursday, but now the Patriots will have to move left guard Logan Mankins to left tackle in order to replace Solder. The Patriots are extremely thin on the line, and they lost elite right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to an ACL tear in Week 8.