New England Patriots Rumors: Key Injury Could Force Team To Change Plans For AFC Championship Game

The New England Patriots are rumored to be short-handed for the AFC Championship game, but true to his style, coach Bill Belichick isn’t giving up much about it.

In the second quarter of Saturday’s divisional-round win over the Baltimore Ravens, rookie center Bryan Stork went down with a right knee injury. He didn’t return to the game, and Belichick hasn’t divulged much about his status for this weekend’s championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“I think Bryan has done a good job for us,” Belichick said during a conference call. “We finished the game without him last week. If he wasn’t available, then we would be in a similar situation this week. Whether it be the same or different, I don’t really want to get into that. He’s obviously done a good job for us and he’s grown along the way.”

There are rumors that the New England Patriots will be without Stork again on Sunday. He wasn’t in the locker room after Saturday’s win, leading many to believe the injury is serious.

Stork was replaced by right guard Ryan Wendell in Saturday’s game, with Josh Kline shifting over to right guard.

If Stork is gone, it would be quite a blow to the Patriots. He has earned praise from coaches, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel singing his praises:

“He’s got a youthful approach to everything. When I say that, it’s a compliment. Every day you see him walk in the building, every day seems like it’s a great day. He’s got a smile on his face, excited to come to work,” he said.

“He’s extremely tough — we knew that when we got him here. He hasn’t let us down in that area at all. [He] works extremely hard at his craft, wants to be good and cares about trying to do his role to help our offense be productive and doesn’t ever want to let anybody down. [He’s] really a pleasure to have here and coach.

“His demeanor, his work ethic, his toughness all fit in with that group in that room. I think he’s got a lot of veteran players in there to learn from, and he’s really tried to soak that in as much as he possibly could. He competed and improved and when he got his opportunity, he really has made the most of it. So, I have a ton of respect for the way he’s gone about his business as a young player, and he’s been a big part of our success this year.”

If Stork is gone, the New England Patriots are rumored to be looking at possibly inserting rookie Cameron Fleming at right guard, but Belichick hasn’t given any indication yet what the team could do.

[Image via ESPN]