The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots have begun preparation for their huge Week 15 game, and the Patriots made a very interesting roster move Tuesday by placing right tackle Marcus Cannon on the injured reserve list.
Woah. Marcus Cannon to IR, per the Patriots. They'll move forward with LaAdrian Waddle and Cam Fleming at RT.— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) December 13, 2017
The move is interesting because it weakens an already questionable offensive line for New England. The Patriots have already given up as many sacks in 2017 than they did the entire 2016 season. Tom Brady has been under siege more than usual, and the team sticking with LaAdrian Waddle and Cam Fleming could be a factor in the outcome of the upcoming game at Heinz Field.
Going forward, the Patriots will have LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming at right tackle.
Waddle played well in place of Cannon, negating star pass rushers Joey Bosa, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack in consecutive games. Waddle suffered an ankle injury in Week 12, however, and missed the past two games. Fleming has fared well subbing for Waddle.
Cannon is the latest prominent Patriots player to hit the injured reserve list. He joins wide receiver Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, linebacker Shea McClellin, cornerback Cyrus Jones, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, and tight end Martellus Bennett on the list.
What is also interesting about this is how both teams will be without their starting right tackle for the game Sunday. Marcus Gilbert of the Steelers is suspended thru Week 15, due to a PED suspension, and clearly the Patriots will likely be on right tackle No. 3.
With a reserve tackle in the game, Steelers fans should expect some pressure from the left side of the defense, and that finger gets pointed directly at Bud Dupree. Dupree has had a quiet season, but is due for a breakout game. In the Week 14 game vs. the Ravens, the Steelers slid T.J. Watt to the left side on occasion while James Harrison filled in on the right side. The Steelers will have to be creative to get pressure on Brady, or else it could be a long day for the Pittsburgh defense.