Patriots' injury situation at cornerback could pose real issue vs. Dolphins

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Perry: Patriots' injury situation at CB conjures scary flashbacks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Patriots have seen this story before. It's ending? Nightmarish.

Bill Belichick's club hit the practice fields on Thursday without most of their top cornerbacks and one of their top safeties as they continue preparations for the Dolphins. Marcus Jones (concussion), Jack Jones (knee), Jalen Mills (groin) and Adrian Phillips (unknown) were all missing from the start of the workout.

The rookie Joneses and Mills all missed Wednesday's practice, and their absence early on Thursday doesn't bode well for their availability Sunday in what's considered a must-win matchup since two wins in the final two weeks of the season would bump the Patriots into the postseason.

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Here's the problem: They could be taking on one of the most explosive receiver groups in the NFL with Jonathan Jones (dealing with a chest injury), Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade as their top-three cornerback options.

The Patriots could elevate practice-squadders Quandre Mosely and Tae Hayes for the game, though that would obviously be a less-than-ideal scenario against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle -- even with Miami backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater getting the nod to start in Tua Tagovailoa's (concussion) absence.

If this sounds somewhat familiar to you, it should.

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During the Wild Card Round last year, the Patriots were short on corners. Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones missed the game due to injuries, which meant Joejuan Williams (only one other start that season) and Bryant (two starts) started at corner alongside J.C. Jackson. Backups D'Angelo Ross (eight snaps), De'Vante Bausby (three) and special-teamer Justin Bethel (13) all were forced into action in the most important game of the year -- a 47-17 rout in which the Bills didn't punt and scored seven touchdowns on seven possessions.

Bausby hadn't played in a game all year prior to that night. The same would be true for Mosely if he were to see action on Sunday. Hayes, meanwhile, was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday. He's played in five games this year for the Panthers.

The Patriots, of course, would prefer not to have to run players out onto the field for their first real snaps as Patriots in a must-win game. But given the injury situation, they may have to and just hope it turns out differently than it did when they were walloped in Buffalo a year ago.