Some news and notes for this morning:
The Patriots won’t have to play three straight prime-time games as their season plays out, with the league removing them from their upcoming Monday night game on the NFL Week 15 schedule.
The 2023 Patriots schedule had three straight prime-time games upcoming, which begins when the club plays next Thursday night against the Steelers and was set to be followed up with a battle at Gillette Stadium against the Chiefs in Week 15 on Monday night.
Instead, the league flexed the Patriots and Chiefs from the Monday night time slot on December 18th, instead replacing it with Philadelphia and Seattle.
New England’s game was moved to a 1:00pm start on Sunday, December 17, which will now be a regional match-up against Patrick Mahomes that will play out locally on television at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots primetime game against the Broncos in Denver on Christmas Eve will finish off their time on national television with the club getting 10 days to recover for that one coming off their Thursday night tilt in Pittsburgh.
This is the first time in league history that a Monday night game has been flexed, so the Patriots will now quietly hold that dubious distinction. Depending on whether or not they can get their offense in gear, it may be for the best.
Asking the defense to shut Mahomes down for any length of time while the other side of the football spins its wheels may have been frustrating to watch, which means now only those of us who follow the team will be among those witnessing it.
Meanwhile, the league also finalized some additional games for that weekend that were still up in the air.
There will be three Saturday games that weekend, with Minnesota and Cincinnati starting things off at 1:00pm, with Pittsburgh and Indianapolis following that up with a match-up at 4:30pm.
Denver and Detroit will then finish things off with an 8:15pm game on Saturday night. All three of those games were still being determined, and the league announced that change on Thursday in addition to the Monday night adjustment.
The Patriots released their injury report on Thursday, and there were a couple of notable changes.
Both Kayshon Boutte and Riley Reiff were downgraded and didn’t participate on Thursday, one day removed from each taking part the day before with their respective injuries.
Reiff, who only recently came off of injured reserve, had seemingly been making progress but clearly suffered a setback. He was listed as “limited” all of last week and wasn’t activated, and he was limited on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Boutte was limited on Wednesday with a shoulder injury, while Thursday saw him not participate, with the designation of “illness” being added to his other ailment.
Demario Douglas missed his second-straight practice with a concussion, which likely signals he may not be available this weekend. Not having Boutte out there would weaken them even further, leaving them even more shorthanded than they’ve essentially been all season.
Ty Montgomery, who missed practice on Wednesday, was listed as a “full” participant on Thursday.
New kicker Matthew Wright was spotted at practice on Thursday, with Wright likely on hand to push rookie kicker Chad Ryland. Ryland missed the potential game-tying kick last Sunday and has been somewhat inconsistent so far early in his career here in New England. … Missing from action yesterday was receiver Matthew Sexton, who appears to have been replaced by Wright. Sexton’s status was confirmed as being terminated by the Patriots on the league’s transaction wire. … Bailey Zappe spoke to reporters on Thursday and he’s hopeful he can continue the success he had in his two starts last year. “Just doing your job, trying to limit turnovers — and win,” Zappe said via Mark Daniels of MassLive. “We were able to do it those two times. So hopefully just trying to carry that over.”
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