With Garoppolo at controls, Patriots face Cardinals

That said, they have been extremely cautious with him in the past any time he has battled an injury, so he's no lock to play against Arizona.

In addition to Brady's absence, the Patriots will be without captain and defensive end Rob Ninkovich after he received a four-game ban for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances. They also are two of the top three coaches in wins the last 60 games. They also suffered one of the most improbable defeats in Super Bowl history when Eli Manning, David Tyree and the New York Giants ended their flawless season in the desert back in 2008.

It's unclear if Gronkowski pushed himself and further injured the hamstring, or if the same issue just continues to linger.

The Cardinals are considered a Super Bowl favorite this season after reaching the NFC championship game a year ago. Gronkowski was New England's No. 1 option down the stretch of the 2015 regular season with wide receiver Julian Edelman nursing a foot injury, as the Patriots star tight end finished the year with 72 catches for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. He tore the ACL in his left knee on September 18, 2011 in Detroit.

One thing that will likely change in this offense while Garoppolo is under center is that New England will likely design more plays with quarterback movement. The tight end's combination of size and speed makes him a mismatch against linebackers, safeties and corners.

The personnel loss is significant for New England, considering Arizona defensive coordinator James Bettcher acknowledged this week how hard it is to game plan against the NFL's top tight end and one of the league's most risky offensive weapons. Hogan was the only full participant. The ground game should be a focus with versatile back David Johnson and a fully healthy Chris Johnson both able to take pressure off of Palmer to make every throw.

"I had this one circled with a red marker", Jones said.

That game in Houston was also thought to be the National Football League debut of 2015 No. 7 overall pick Kevin White, who missed all of last season after suffering a stress fracture in his leg during training camp. Either LaAdrian Waddle or Cameron Fleming should replace Solder at left tackle, and Shaq Mason and Ted Karras are the two candidates to start at right guard. The Patriots changed Gronkowski's status from questionable late Friday.

  • Jacqueline Ellis