Marcus Cannon's concussion could thrust Cam Fleming into key role

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Backup offensive tackles Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle could become critical players for the New England Patriots in their home game against the Houston Texans on Sunday, as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon is in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Cannon, who has emerged as arguably the team’s top offensive lineman, went wire to wire in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints. He played through an ankle injury, and now also has a concussion, per the team’s official injury report. Cannon did not practice Wednesday.

The Texans have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, but Cannon has had some success against J.J. Watt in recent games, albeit with Watt not always at full strength.

Fleming, a four-year veteran from Stanford, would likely be thrust into a starting role in his place. Waddle, a five-year vet, would elevate to the swing tackle role.

Elsewhere on the team’s injury front, tight end Rob Gronkowski did not participate in any team-specific drills on Wednesday due the groin injury he sustained in Sunday’s win. Gronkowski was present at the start of practice for warm-ups and positional drills.

Running back Rex Burkhead (ribs) was the other player, along with Cannon and Gronkowski, to not take part in any team-specific drills.

Meanwhile, the following players were limited: wide receivers Danny Amendola (concussion/knee), Phillip Dorsett (knee) and Chris Hogan (knee), cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (groin) and Eric Rowe (groin), linebackers Dont'a Hightower (knee) and Elandon Roberts (thumb), special-teams captain Matthew Slater (hamstring) and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee).