The first injury report for the week is out and it’s a mixed bag for the Titans.
DNP: Jack Conklin (concussion), Taywan Taylor (foot), Dane Cruikshank (knee), Daren Bates (illness)
Limited: Derrick Morgan (shoulder), Tajae Sharpe (ankle)
Full: Will Compton (hamstring)
Conklin, Taylor, and Cruikshank all left Monday night’s game against the Cowboys with their injuries and all three missed practice today. Conklin is in the concussion protocol which can be highly unpredictable. Just this season we have seen Adoree’ Jackson return to play the following week while Taylor Lewan and Blaine Gabbert both took two weeks before returning to action. There really is no set timeline with these injuries, but given that this is a short week for the Titans, it seems like there is a better than 50-50 chance that Conklin misses the Patriots game. Dennis Kelly would start at right tackle in his place and, frankly, Kelly has been outstanding when pressed in to action this season so the team should be OK with him in there if Conklin can’t go.
Taylor was reportedly wearing a walking boot on his injured foot in the locker room which certainly doesn’t seem like a good sign for him to be able to go this weekend either.
Taywan Taylor wearing walking boot on left leg in locker— John Glennon (@glennonsports) November 7, 2018
Taylor has been inconsistent in his second season out of Western Kentucky, but the Titans already thin receiving corps certainly doesn’t need to get any thinner. If he can’t go — and maybe even if he can — Cameron Batson seems likely to get the start as Tennessee’s primary slot receiver when the team is in 11 personnel. The speedy, undersized, undrafted rookie from Texas Tech caught two passes for 21 yards — both for 3rd down conversions — in his first extended action at wide receiver on Monday night and earned praise from Mike Vrabel for his work in the game.
Cruikshank left the Cowboys game early with a knee injury and did not return. He is a key part of the Titans highly rated special teams units and will be missed if he can’t get on the field Sunday.
Another key special teamer, Daren Bates missed with an illness. Most of the time players with an “illness” designation return to practice relatively quickly, but given the Dennis Kelly experience earlier in the year, I won’t rule anything out. Missing both Bates and Cruikshank would be troublesome for the Titans coverage units. Those two guys are frequent playmakers in the third phase.
In better news, Derrick Morgan was a limited participant on Wednesday after missing the Cowboys game with a shoulder injury. It would be a good sign for his availability if he’s able to get a full practice or two in before the end of the week. The Titans didn’t miss him too much against Dallas as they tallied 5 sacks in the second half, but having another quality pass rusher on hand to chase Tom Brady is always helpful.
Tajae Sharpe was also limited in practice with an ankle injury that he suffered in pregame Monday night. He ended up playing a heavy complement of snaps in the game without aggravating the injury so he’s likely going to be able to go on Sunday barring a setback. Even though he’s more than likely going to be available, it might behoove the Titans to call up either Roger Lewis or Devin Ross off the practice squad to boost the numbers at wide receiver. If Taylor can’t go — which seems pretty likely at this point — it would leave them with just four healthy wide receivers on Sunday, including one with a somewhat gimpy ankle.
Finally, Will Compton was a full participant as he gets back in the mix after missing time with a hamstring injury. His availability will be important if Bates can’t go for whatever reason as he’s another special teams contributor.
As for the Patriots, they seem to be a team getting healthier at the moment. Guard Shaq Mason, running back Sony Michel, and tight end Rob Gronkowski all made limited appearances on Wednesday. Michel (knee) and Gronkowski (ankle/back) both had limited sessions last week before sitting out their game against the Packers so they could still end up deciding to let those guys rest through their Week 11 bye. Mason did not practice all of last week and missed the game so his limited showing marks an improvement for him.
The Patriots injury report is always long, but often veteran guys like Dont’a Hightower are listed as limited all week before ultimately playing every Sunday. I would keep an eye on Mason, Michel, and Gronkowski, but they otherwise seem to be a healthy football team.