The New England Patriots have been battling injuries all year. On the offensive side of the ball, players like Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen have all missed significant time. Now, they must deal with a key injury on special teams.
Punter Ryan Allen left the team’s divisional round playoff game with the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter. He was hit after a botched snap led to a safety. After hurting his shoulder, kicker Stephen Gostkowski took over the punting duties for the remainder of the game.
On Tuesday, head coach Bill Belichick didn’t give any further update on Allen’s status. If he is unable to go for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Gostkowski could pull double duty, once again, The team also has the option of bringing in another punter.
Fortunately for the Patriots, neither option may be necessary. Allen was back at practice on Wednesday, which could be a sign that he’ll be ready to go against the Denver Broncos. In the 2013 regular season, Allen averaged 45.9 yards per punt. In New England’s one game against Denver, he punted six times.
As the Patriots see one of their starters return to practice, a former Patriot player has joined the Broncos. On Tuesday, Marquice Cole signed with Denver for the team’s matchup with New England on Sunday. The cornerback played for the Patriots this season, but was released on Dec. 26. Before being released, he played 13 games for New England, intercepting one pass and recording 10 solo tackles.
The Broncos have brought in Cole to improve the team’s depth, following the injury to Chris Harris. The cornerback is done for the playoffs, having suffered a torn ACL against the San Diego Chargers. In 16 games, Harris was one of Denver’s best defensive players. He picked off three passes and added 13 pass deflections
The Patriots are set to face the Broncos at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. New England beat Denver by three points earlier this year.