NFL: Patriots to host Lions in battle of injury-riddled, three-loss teams

If there’s any such thing as a good loss, the New England Patriots had one last weekend.

However, even the best of losses doesn’t come close to the worst of wins, so the Patriots will be looking to get back on track on Sunday when they face the Detroit Lions in Foxborough, Mass.

New England (1-3) put up a valiant effort in enemy territory against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. The Patriots were without starting quarterback Mac Jones due to an ankle injury, and backup Brian Hoyer exited the game in the first quarter after slamming his head against the turf.

Rookie Bailey Zappe was forced to take over, and, in his NFL debut, gave New England a fighting chance, helping the Patriots to a seven-point lead with just over 11 minutes left to play.

But the more experienced quarterback prevailed, as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers squeaked out a 27-24 win in overtime.

Now Zappe might find himself starting against the Lions, and if he does, New England coach Bill Belichick said he’ll be ready to go.

“I think we all know what a backup quarterback’s potential job and role is. Bailey knows it, we know it and everybody that plays that position knows it,” Belichick said. “He stepped in, he was well prepared and I thought generally, he handled himself well.”

Jones’ return isn’t completely out of the question, as he was limited in practice on Wednesday and NFL Network also reported that he was going to “push to play.” Hoyer, however, did not practice.

Belichick wouldn’t give away any of his cards, though.

“We’ll see,” he said when asked about the quarterback situation. “Just take it day to day.”

Much like the Patriots, Detroit (1-3) wasn’t able to overcome injuries to key offensive weapons last week, either.

The Lions were without receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D’Andre Swift, who could have been the difference had they played in the 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Both St. Brown (ankle) and Swift (shoulder/ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice.

Regardless of who is or who isn’t playing, offense hasn’t been the issue for the Lions.

Detroit’s defense has been abysmal, allowing the most points (35.3) and yards (444.8) per game through the first four weeks of the season.

One especially poor performance hasn’t inflated those numbers, either, as the Lions have allowed at least 27 points and 373 yards in each of their first four games.

“(Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) and I are still working through that, us and the defense,” Detroit coach Dan Campbell said. “We’re going to need to move some personnel around, that’ll be one part of it, and then certainly look at calming things down and simplifying schematically.”

Linebacker Chris Board (knee) and defensive lineman John Cominsky (wrist) likely won’t be part of those adjustments just yet, as they were both non-participants during practice on Wednesday.

The Lions’ offensive line is also banged up. Center Evan Brown (ankle) did not practice, and tackles Taylor Decker (knee) and Matt Nelson (calf) were limited along with guard Jonah Jackson (finger).

Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) did not participate in New England’s practice on Wednesday, while safety Kyle Dugger and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers were limited participants with knee injuries.

Safety Adrian Phillips (hip) and cornerback Jalen Mills (hamstring) were also limited.

–Field Level Media

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