Pondering life without Matthew Slater

Special-teams captain Matthew Slater is the latest injured Patriots player.

On Monday, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported that Slater has a broken bone in his hand, putting his status in question for Sunday's game against the Buccaneers. That was followed up by Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reporting that Slater could miss four to six weeks with a broken wrist.

A few Slater thoughts:

1. Core special-teamer. The Patriots have five players who would be considered "core" special-teamers based on playing the "Big 4" units -- Slater, safety Tavon Wilson and linebackers Jamie Collins, Dane Fletcher and Chris White. When a team loses a core player on special teams, it often means that multiple players are tapped to fill the void. If the Patriots look to the practice squad for help, rookie safety Kanorris Davis (Troy) could be an ideal candidate. He caught the eye with strong special-teams play in the preseason.

2. Best in the business. Slater is a two-time Pro Bowler. After Thursday's win over the Jets, coach Rex Ryan was explaining why he didn't have a punt returner back on a few attempts and said, "That Slater kid is a heck of a football player.” So this is naturally a big hit for the Patriots in an often overlooked area of the game.

3. Emergency option at receiver. Slater has seldom been a big factor on offense, but in the event of emergency, he was a fallback option at receiver. Given that depth is already thinned at the position with Danny Amendola's availability in doubt, this could spark some roster/practice-squad movement. Perhaps the club brings back Quentin Sims on the practice squad.