After a preseason marked by a handful of concerning injuries, the New England Patriots are almost 100% healthy for the first practice of the regular season.
The lone absence (on the active 53-man roster) from Monday’s practice was right tackle Riley Reiff. Combining that with the return of Calvin Anderson means that fans should expect to see Anderson as the new starting right tackle for Week 1, despite Reiff playing that role all preseason.
Patriots News: Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson Injury Updates
Riley Reiff was absent from practice, and he has yet to suit up since suffering a right-leg injury in the Patriots’ preseason finale on August 25. Calvin Anderson was on the practice field for this first time since joining the Patriots after having been on the NFI (non-football injury) list.
(UPDATE – Sep. 4 2023, 4:47 p.m. ET: Reiff has now been placed on the I.R. and will miss at least four games).
There’s still time for Reiff to get back onto the practice field, but his starting job isn’t even guaranteed when healthy, and it certainly seems like a fully-healthy Anderson would get the start over a banged-up Reiff.
Reiff had an underwhelming 2022 for the Pats, earning an overall grade of 64.3 from Pro Football Focus, which was punctuated by a particularly poor run-blocking season. PFF gave Anderson a very similar outlook (65.0 overall grade, especially poor in run blocking) with the Broncos in 2022, though he had graded out very well in 2021.
Continuity is very important on the offensive line, and if Reiff wasn’t injured I would suspect he’d at least get the start in Week 1 since Anderson hasn’t had time to build up any rapport with this offense like Reiff has through the offseason.
But Reiff’s ailment changes everything, and Anderson will now be the one who has had the chance to work with the ones in preparation for an incredibly difficult Week 1 matchup against the reigning NFC champs.
The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best (if not the best) defensive lines in football, and this could be the toughest test the Patriots’ o-line faces all season.
It will be trial by fire for Anderson, but it’s also a great opportunity to prove himself and solidify his position as the starting right tackle in New England even when Reiff is back at full health.
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