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Sep 20, 2016 9:12 PM

Patriots plagued by injury heading into tough game against Texans


FOXBOROUGH – The New England Patriots are staying tight-lipped about their plan for taking on the Houston Texans at Gillette on Thursday, including whether a few key players will be healthy enough to play.

Jimmy Garoppolo is still recovering from a shoulder injury he sustained during Sunday’s game against Miami. The young quarterback was having the game of his life before a tackle late in the second quarter didn’t end in his favor.

Garoppolo was upgraded to “limited participation” in Tuesday’s practice report after sitting out on Monday. However, he was not seen in the complex.

Head Coach Bill Belichick gave no clues as to when Jimmy G will return, or even if he’ll be well enough by Thursday to backup rookie Jacoby Brissett.

“He’s been looked at and he’s been treated,” Belichick said. “That’s not a football decision, that’s a medical decision.”

Belichick also explained that Garoppolo will play only if it’s what’s best for the entire team.

“It’s based on what’s in the best interest of the football team,” he added. “Players’ personal situation, his health, always comes first.”

The team has also felt pressure from Rob Gronkowski’s absence. Though fellow tight end Martellus Bennett has stepped up while Gronk continues dealing with a hamstring injury.

He spoke to the media Tuesday, saying he’s getting a little better every day.

“It’s super tough watching the guys,” Gronk said. “They work super hard every single week and it’s tough not to be out there with them, but I’m doing everything I can to be out there as soon as possible.”

Though Gronk hasn’t played at all this season, he had praises for the effort Brissett has put in since he joined the organization.

“He’s a great dude,” he said. “He’s a great player, and ever since he’s been here he’s been improving every single day. That’s all you can ask for, but we’ve got a very tough Texans team coming up.”

Belichick also had good things to say about the rookie.

“Jacoby’s done a good job for us,” he said. “He’s improved every day. He’s a hard-working kid. He’s in here early, stays late, studies the game mentally, he’s got a good physical talent. He has improved steadily since he has been here.”

However, Brissett said he’s preparing for this game just like he would any other, even if Thursday is his first NFL start.

“We just have to come together as a team, you know, short week, have to get ready for a good team to come in here and for a hard battle,” he said after practice. “It’s the same preparation every week, preparing and going out there ready for a game.”

It is unclear is Garoppolo will be prepared to back up Brissett on Thursday, if Julian Edelman is, in fact, the team’s emergency quarterback, or if the team is looking to bring another quarterback into the mix for the 13 days until Tom Brady’s suspension is over.

The only thing that’s clear this week is it’s very likely the Patriots’ lineup – beginning with their starting quarterback – won’t be finalized until shortly before kickoff, which is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. on Thursday.

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