By Danny Cox
This weekend will easily bring one of the biggest games of the 2017 NFL regular season as the 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers take on the 10-3 New England Patriots. Both teams were on a bit of a hot streak until the Pats fell short this past week against the Miami Dolphins in a shocking loss on Monday Night Football.
Still, there is nothing to say they won’t bounce back this week, and it is putting a lot of hype on the huge match-up, which has Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin very excited that things are happening at Heinz Field.
“It’s good to be in the kitchen. The kitchen’s in Pittsburgh, PA, this week in the National Football League, and at Heinz Field,” Tomlin said of this weekend’s huge game between the Steelers and Patriots. “That’s where you want to be in the middle of December. We don’t take it for granted.”
As the Steelers look to continue their winning ways and the Patriots try to figure out where things went wrong in Miami, New England is making a lot moves.
Marcus Cannon placed on Injured Reserve
Cannon hasn’t played since injuring his ankle back in late October, but there was always hope that he may be able to head back onto the field this season. That hope came to an end on Wednesday as the Pats’ starting right tackle was place on injured reserve with surgery likely in hope of returning in 2018 as a fully healthy offensive lineman.
LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming are in line to take over the spot and will likely rotate in and out to protect Tom Brady and open holes for the running game.
Pats sign two and release two others
Despite being without tight End Rob Gronkowski, who was out for a one-game suspension on Monday night, the Patriots offense seemed to be missing something against the Dolphins. That is why New England went out and signed free agent wide receiver Kenny Britt to a two-year deal on Wednesday afternoon.
This essentially ends all hope that young Malcolm Mitchell, who has been on injured reserve all season, will return. Britt will be the tallest receiver on the Patriots’ roster at 6-foot-3. Chris Hogan is 6-foot-1 while Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola don’t even crack the six-foot mark.
New England also brought back defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who appeared in a few games with the team earlier this season. Francois’ return isn’t overly unexpected as defensive tackle Alan Branch left Monday’s loss to the Dolphins early with a knee injury and could miss practice time and a game or two.
To make way for Francois and Britt, the Pats had to open a few roster spots. That was done by releasing linebacker Jonathan Freeny and punt returner Bernard Reedy.
The New England Patriots are heading into the final few games of the season and want to get back the momentum that made them into one of the most feared teams in the NFL. Now, they are coming off of a highly unexpected loss and a a number of roster changes who will have to mesh in a hurry with the rest of the team.