Patriots' injury report highlights issues along OL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There are no major surprises on the New England Patriots' Friday injury report, with the growing list highlighting how some of the primary issues are along the offensive line.

Specifically, with offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (a starter after Nate Solder landed on IR) already ruled out with a toe injury, the Patriots are depleted at the position and project to have Sebastian Vollmer (left) and Cameron Fleming (right) as the top tandem on Sunday against the Jets.

But who's the swing tackle to serve as the No. 3 option?

The Patriots don't currently have one on the roster, which might call for a practice-squad promotion, as rookie Blaine Clausell (Mississippi State) and second-year player Chris Barker are options. Or the team could use 304-pound tight end Michael Williams, who played offensive tackle for the Lions prior to being converted back to tight end once the Patriots acquired him in late September.

When I asked Williams this week about the challenge of possibly going back to tackle in an emergency this week, he said, "Hey man, I'm a football player." Bill Belichick also pointed out that Williams played tackle against the Jets this preseason with Detroit.

Another possibility is to have third-year guard Josh Kline, who played some tackle at Kent State, as an emergency option.

But further complicating the picture is that rookie guard Shaq Mason (knee) is questionable and might not be ready to go, further testing the team's depth. Mason missed practices Wednesday and Thursday, and returned Friday (he was limited).

A few other key takeaways from the injury report/waiver wire:

  • Second-year defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, who was waived on Thursday, was claimed by the Lions. That thwarts the Patriots' hopes that he would be re-signed to the team's practice squad.

  • With linebacker Dont'a Hightower (ribs) questionable, all eyes focus on his availability as a key, as the Jets' running game is formidable. Hightower was limited in practice all week.

  • With defensive end Jabaal Sheard (ankle) already ruled out, it could mean the first action of the season for rookie Trey Flowers, as the team's depth at the position might be tapped. The key for Flowers will be the health of his shoulder and knee as he is also questionable.

  • Special teams captain Matthew Slater (knee), whose status was a hot-button topic after he required help coming off the field late Sunday night, was limited all week and is officially questionable.

  • Running back Dion Lewis (abdomen) is questionable, but expected to play.