FOXBORO – Injuries have kept Alfonzo Dennard out of action this summer.
But even as the second-year corner creeps closer to full strength, the Patriots have to bear in mind the possibility that Dennard could be in jail when the team travels to Buffalo for its opener.
Dennard has a hearing next Friday in Lincoln, Nebraska to determine if an arrest on suspicion of DUI in July was a violation of probation conditions he was given in April. The Patriots open the season on Sunday, September 8.
Dennard received a 30-day sentence in April after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer in Lincoln in 2012. Dennard’s 30-day sentence was suspended until 2014, provided he behaved himself. If the DUI arrest is determined to be a probation violation, Dennard could conceivable have his sentence imposed immediately.
The Patriots are accustomed to working without Dennard, yet they’ve been able to plan on his return from a shoulder injury suffered during minicamp. If he’s jailed, the team will be minus one corner for five games.
This dynamic could impact the team’s roster decisions when they cut down to 53 players on Saturday at 6 p.m. Kyle Arrington’s been playing outside in place of Dennard for much of the preseason with Marquice Cole in the slot frequently. Rookie Logan Ryan and oft-injured Ras-I Dowling will also be in the mix. The team re-signed rookie Stephon Morris on Monday, perhaps as insurance if Dennard is jailed.
If Dennard does go away, the Patriots will have to consider which designation they want to use if they deactivate him. With Rob Gronkowski in a spot where he could begin the year on PUP or be on the active roster but sidelined thanks to his back, the Patriots have a couple of personnel factors to weigh as cutdowns approach.