It wouldn't be a proper Patriots season without a Rob Gronkowski injury saga. In an unusual moment of candor from a Patriots player, Gronkowski revealed last week he's suffering from a hamstring injury and isn't feeling 100 percent. He was on the practice field this week after sitting out the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but apparently still isn't healthy enough to play.
Though the Patriots were able to defeat the Cardinals without Gronkowski, his value to the team goes without saying. For the second consecutive contest, Jimmy Garoppolo will be forced to work with an undermanned offense. Tackle Sebastian Vollmer and running back Dion Lewis were placed on the PUP list prior to the start of the season.
The Patriots' injury woes will stretch to the defensive side of the ball this week as well. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who's developed into one of the leaders on defense, is doubtful with a knee injury.
Throughout the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots have largely been able to withstand injuries and win games while stretching the edges of their depth chart. But with Garoppolo under center instead of Tom Brady for the first four weeks of the season, the challenge this season is more daunting.
In addition to the Patriots, a number of other teams are dealing with injuries to star players heading into Sunday's action. Many are electing to pay through the pain, which is always a risky endeavor –– especially this early in the season.
Other notable injuries
Russell Wilson: Schefter reports Wilson will battle through a high ankle sprain when the Seahawks take on the Rams this week. Though his movement may be hampered, he was reportedly "moving like a ballerina" at practice this week.
Demaryius Thomas: The Broncos are expecting Thomas to play against the Indianapolis Colts despite suffering a hip injury in the season-opener against the Carolina Panthers. The star wideout was reportedly grabbing his hip and "grimacing" during practice this week.
Sam Shields: When Sam Bradford makes his Vikings debut Sunday night, he'll face a Packers defense that's missing its No. 1 cornerback. Shields was ruled out with a concussion after being listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report. The blow came on a seemingly routine play against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week and is the fifth documented concussion Shields has suffered in his career. With him out of the lineup, the Packers will be forced to rely on three second-year players at corner: Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius LaDarius Gunter.
Robert Griffin III: The Cleveland Browns were already preparing to play without RGIII this week against the Baltimore Ravens, but will reportedly be without him for much longer. According to Shefter, Griffin is now expected to miss 10-12 weeks with his shoulder injury, meaning he could be out for the rest of the regular season. It appears as if it's time for year two of the Josh McCown era.
Elvis Dumervil: Fortunately for McCown, the Ravens will be without their top pass-rusher Sunday. Dumervil is reportedly eyeing a Week 3 return from a foot injury he suffered last year. Dumervil played through the pain in 2015 and led the team with six sacks, but opted to get offseason surgery.
Jamaal Charles: It has been almost a year since Charles tore his ACL against the Chicago Bears. The star running back will be sidelined again this week when the Chiefs take on the Houston Texans, but is expected to return against the New York Jets next Sunday.