Already thin on the offensive line, the Patriots suffered a major blow during the season opener in Miami as starting center Dan Koppen had to be carted off after sustaining what appeared to be a serious left leg injury. 

In a move to add depth to the offensive line, the Patriots Monday signed Thomas Welch off the practice squad and added him to the 53-man roster. To make room for Welch on the active roster the Patriots released linebacker Jeff Tarpinian.

The Patriots announced Sunday that the following players have been downgraded to out for Monday's game:

T Sebastian Vollmer
LB Jermaine Cunningham
WR Taylor Price
LB Jeff Tarpinian
OL Ryan Wendell

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Here are 10 matchups worth keeping an eye on in Monday’s season-opener between the Patriots and Dolphins in Miami.

Energy against energy

The only major change in the Patriots injury report on Saturday is Albert Haynesworth, who, after practicing without an issue all week, was held out of practice on Saturday because of illness.

CB Leigh Bodden (hand)
WR Julian Edelman (hand)

DE Mark Anderson (knee -- limited)
CB Kyle Arrington (hip -- limited)
OL Dan Connolly (foot -- limited)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (groin -- limited)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb -- limited)

One man's Week 1 NFL selections (note: I picked Green Bay over New Orleans on Thursday, which is historic if only because it means I'm over .500 for the first time in the year-plus I've been making picks for the website.) ...




FOXBORO -- Dan Gronkowski says there hasn't been much time for laughs and jokes with his younger brother, Rob, since the Patriots signed him off waivers this week from the Broncos. The Pats officially added him to the roster on Wednesday, giving him a chance to team with Rob and giving the Patriots another big tight end on the edge to help in the run-blocking game and another big body in the kicking game.

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday morning to discuss issues around the league. One of the topics King talked about was the status of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and his injured neck.

King said he talked to a spine expert on Thursday and was told that the expected recovery period for Manning from spinal fusion surgery will be 2-3 months and that he may play again this year, considering Manning's physical health and drive.

Recently retired offensive lineman and current ESPN football analyst Damien Woody checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning. The former Boston College star said he thinks defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will fare well on one of Woody’s former teams, the Patriots.

FOXBORO -- In a likely sign that he won't be available for Monday night's season opener in Miami, starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer missed his third straight practice on Friday as the Patriots worked out in shorts and shells on the lower grass field outside Gillette Stadium. The team had practiced in full pads the previous two days.