Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez is just three games into his career, but he is already grabbing the attention of opponents with his play. Adam Hunger/Associated Press

New England rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez is off to a terrific start, and opposing coaches are already taking notice.

Including the Patriots’ next opponent: the Dallas Cowboys.

“If there’s a better young corner in the league than Gonzalez, you’d be hard-pressed to find (him),” Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said this week. “He’s playing at a really high level.”

Through three games, Gonzalez has been tasked with defending some of the league’s best receivers, and has excelled. He helped limit the Eagles’ strong passing game against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, breaking up a late fourth-down pass that gave the Patriots a chance to win.

Gonzalez helped limit Tyreek Hill to five catches for 40 yards, and made a key interception in the fourth quarter on a pass intended for the Dolphins’ star. He followed that up by holding Jets receiver Garrett Wilson to two catches while in coverage. Against Hill and Wilson, the rookie shadowed the two stars for stretches of the second half in both games.

Gonzalez’s Pro Football Focus grade of 84.4 rates fifth among cornerbacks in the NFL, and he’s an early candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Inside Gillette Stadium, the Patriots aren’t shocked that Gonzalez has been so good this early.


“I don’t know if I would say surprised,” Patriots defensive coach Steve Belichick said. “Just because we did a lot of work on him coming out of college, so you could see a lot of these traits when you watched all the college tape and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say surprised but he’s been playing really well so far, which is the expectation of all our players around here. But I’m definitely happy we have him. It’s why we drafted him and everybody else, so I’m happy that he’s doing well and hope it can continue.”

Gonzalez has another big test Sunday against Cowboys star wideout CeeDee Lamb. If the first three weeks are any indication, the rookie will be up to the challenge.

“Gonzo’s done a great job,” Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo said. “Every week we challenge him with some of these things, whether it’s to their go-to guy or against someone else with no help. He’s a very good corner, can play man-to-man, can play zone, but obviously still has a long way to go.”
DANIEL EKUALE, Patriots defensive tackle, was initially diagnosed with a torn biceps after Sunday’s win over the Jets, according to a report from ESPN.

On Tuesday the team placed him on injured reserve.

Ekuale, a rotational pass rusher, hurt his left arm while attempting to make an arm tackle in the second quarter. He left the game immediately and sat on the bench for the remainder of the first half. The team is awaiting further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder has been a staple member of the Patriots’ defensive subpackages since he joined the team in 2021. Ekuale recorded two sacks and several pressures in each of the past two seasons. On Sunday, he forced a fumble before leaving the game.


The Pats also lost starting nose tackle Davon Godchaux to an ankle injury Sunday. The severity of Godchaux’s injury is unknown. Without them, the team’s defensive tackle depth is down to Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore and Sam Roberts.

FALCONS: Atlanta lost a starter from the middle of its defense for at least four weeks with linebacker Troy Andersen being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Andersen suffered the injury in Sunday’s 20-6 loss at the Detroit Lions. Coach Arthur Smith on Monday said “it’s certainly possible” Andersen will miss the remainder of the season.

JETS: New York is adding veteran quarterback Trevor Siemian to the practice squad, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.

The move is pending a physical for the 31-year-old Siemian, who will give the Jets an experienced backup for embattled starter Zach Wilson.

Wilson has struggled since taking over for Aaron Rodgers, who tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his debut with New York. Wilson has two touchdown passes and four interceptions with a 52.4 percent completion rate, and is averaging just 5.6 yards per pass.

SAINTS: In a surprising move, New Orleans released veteran receiver Tre’Quan Smith off injured reserve, making him a free agent.

Smith had been with New Orleans since they selected him in the third round of the 2018 draft. Over parts of five seasons with the Saints, Smith caught 131 passes and scored 18 touchdowns.

He frequently dealt with injury throughout his career, never playing a full season.

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