Chung, McCourty, Ocho, Connolly out

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
8:15
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- The Patriots will be without starting safety Patrick Chung (foot), starting cornerback Devin McCourty (shoulder), starting center Dan Connolly (groin) and receiver Chad Ochocinco, who apparently had his hamstring tighten up late in the week, for Sunday's game against the Eagles.

The team announced the downgrades tonight, and Chung and McCourty are the most significant as they are two of the team's best defensive players. This will be the third straight game Chung misses, and the second straight for McCourty.

The Patriots are extremely thin at safety, where James Ihedigbo (5th year) and Sterling Moore (rookie) have started the last two weeks. Sergio Brown, who has fallen out of favor in recent weeks, is the third option on the depth chart. The deadline to promote safety Ross Ventrone from the practice squad was 4 p.m. Saturday and that passed without the Patriots making a move.

Meanwhile, four-year veteran Antwaun Molden is likely to make his second straight start in place of McCourty at left cornerback. Molden's start Monday against the Chiefs was the first of his NFL career. The Patriots have Molden, Kyle Arrington and Phillip Adams atop the cornerback depth chart, with receiver Julian Edelman next in line as the dime back.

With Connolly out, the Patriots will turn to third-year player Ryan Wendell, who replaced Connolly during Monday's win and drew praise from coach Bill Belichick for his blocking on a screen pass. Donald Thomas would likely be the backup.

The Ochocinco news is likely to generate the biggest buzz, although it's the least significant of the downgrades. He's hardly been a factor as the team's third receiver (11 catches) and this opens the door for Taylor Price, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater to bump up the depth chart.

The Patriots had already ruled out linebackers Brandon Spikes (knee) and Dane Fletcher (thumb), so they will need to deactivate just one more player 90 minutes before kickoff.

One final note: Starting left tackle Matt Light (right ankle) has made the trip and thus has a chance to suit up. That's the good news for the Patriots.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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