“That’s huge,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “We’re really thankful as a team to be where we are right now, to have a chance to be in position to play for something else. But we realize that eight wins doesn’t get us anything. That’ll get us a ticket home at the end of the season.”
That’s not very likely to happen — with or without Cunningham and Jones — not with the Patriots having the NFL’s best offense, a five-game winning streak and two games against Miami and one against Jacksonville, both with losing records, remaining.
“The next guy’s got to just step up and be ready to play,” safety Steve Gregory said. “The game of football is a physical game. Guys go down. Guys get hurt. Everyone on your roster has to be ready to step up and play at any given moment, so all of our guys treat it that way.”
The Patriots signed Scott as a free agent following four seasons with Oakland, where he was drafted in the sixth round. He had a total of 12 sacks in 32 games over his first two seasons, but just 1 1-2 in 26 games during the last two. Of his 58 games with the Raiders, he started 16.
He’s not worrying about his limited playing time so far this year.
“It’s not going to help if I get down about myself,” Scott said. “I don’t really have any control over that. But I just have control over what happens when I do get in the game.”
The league’s announcement of Cunningham’s suspension did not specify the substance. The Patriots had no official reaction.
Cunningham can return to the active roster on Dec. 24, one day after the Patriots play at Jacksonville, and be eligible for the regular-season finale against the Dolphins in Foxborough.