FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots are looking to keep up the momentum this week as they’re down in Carolina to take on the Panthers.
The Patriots are coming off back-to-back wins against the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers, improving their record to 4-4.
A win Sunday would put them at 4-0 on the road, but New England’s offense may have a tough time getting through Carolina’s top-ranked defense, which has 21 sacks on the season and features old friend Stephon Gilmore, who was traded to the Panthers last month.
For the second straight game, the Panthers offense may be without QB Sam Darnold, who was limited at practice this week as he recovers from a concussion and an injury to his throwing shoulder.
RB Christian McCaffrey, who’s been on injured reserve since Week 3 with a hamstring injury, will be a game-time decision on Sunday. However, should he be activated, he’s not expected to see significant reps.
The Patriots had a slew of limited participants at practice this week with various injuries, including LB Dont’a Hightower (ankle), LB Kyle Van Noy (groin), TE Jonnu Smith (shoulder), OL Shaq Mason (abdomen) and K Nick Folk (knee).
The team’s top corner, J.C. Jackson, is expected to take the field after missing practice Wednesday and Thursday due to illness.
The Panthers currently hold a two-game winning streak over the Patriots, having won their last matchup 33-30 back in 2017.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game’s on 12!
Below are some notes and quotes to get you ready for kickoff:
- Damien Harris is looking to score a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game. If successful, he will tie for the third-most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown in team history.
- Mac Jones has completed more than 70 percent of his passes in five of his first eight NFL games, making him the only rookie quarterback to ever do so. The rookie record is nine total games set by Dak Prescott. The NFL record is 13 games by Drew Brees in 2017.
- Matthew Judon leads the Patriots with 8 sacks. His career high is 9 .5 sacks in 2019 when he played for Baltimore.
- J.C. Jackson is tied with Miami’s Xavien Howard for the most interceptions since he entered the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2018 with 20 picks.
RB Damien Harris on the Panthers defense: “It’s a great defense. Obviously, they’ve got great players, their scheme is good, they do a lot of good things. Their front four, everybody knows they like to get after the passer, get after the quarterback. Linebackers are experienced guys that have played a lot of football, so they usually know how to play, and in the back they’ve got guys who can can run and can cover.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge for us. Every week we know it’s about us, it’s not about who we’re playing. We have confidence that if we go out there, play our game, play it the right way, prepare the right way all week, and go out there and play our best football on Sunday, we really think we have a chance.”
CB Jalen Mills on the Patriots’ improving record: “I think the biggest focus right now is just trying to get better, one day at a time, you know, and that’s on all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. Just making those daily deposits each and every day and then, when Sunday comes, we’re prepared and we’re ready to go and we’re just out there playing fast and having fun.”
K Nick Folk on his routine: “I think it changes year to year. You kind of have to change with your body, change as you grow, change with the team, and then, change with injuries, that can change throughout the course of the year too. You kind of have to play that as it comes up.
“I would say my routine to get loose to kick, I’ve got that down, I’ve had that down for quite a while, and then as far as pre-game, we kind of go through the same thing, and a lot of that is to kind of figure out, especially here in New England, figure out the weather, figure out what’s going on.”