Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon walks off the field during New England’s 38-3 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday in Arlington, Texas. Judon reportedly suffered a torn lower biceps tendon. Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

The Patriots could be without two of their best defensive players for a while.

Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez suffered a separated shoulder late in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, a source told The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.

The Patriots also are expected to lose outside linebacker Matthew Judon who has a lower biceps tendon tear.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, both players are seeking second opinions and will be out indefinitely, which would only add to the holes on defense the Patriots are facing.

“We generally follow the same protocol every week,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said about the injuries. “There’s really nothing particularly different here. If a player gets injured during the game, especially when we’re on the road, it’s always better to get a little better, more definitive evaluation the next day, after the adrenaline has settled down and the hype of the game is off and we get a chance to look at whatever tests the medical people need to do, whether that’s scans, MRIs, X-rays, post-evaluation – somewhere between 12-24 hours after the incident occurred – and just find out more. So, rather than speculate and guess and throw a bunch of stuff out there, we’ll try to get a more definitive answer before we do anything or say anything. I’m not going to try to pass along a bunch of misinformation..”

Patriots cornerbacks Jack Jones and Marcus Jones are on injured reserve. Cornerback Jonathan Jones has missed three straight games with an ankle injury.


That leaves the Patriots with Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade and Ameer Speed as the only healthy cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. Safety Jalen Mills also played cornerback in Sunday’s loss after Gonzalez got hurt.

Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons pressures Patriots quarterback Mac Jones on a pass play of New England’s 38-3 loss on Sunday in Arlington, Texas. Roger Steinman/Associated Press

PERHAPS SUNDAY’S benching was a wake-up call for Patriots quarterback Mac Jones.

Belichick took Jones out of the game after the third-year pro tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble on a strip sack. One of his interceptions plus his fumble were returned for touchdowns by the Cowboys’ defense in the Patriots’ 38-3 loss. Ball security has been an issue for the Patriots all season.

“What you emphasize is what you get,” Jones said on WEEI’s “Jones and Mego with Arcand” show. “I know (Alabama offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Dan Enos) told me that a long time ago. Whatever you put an emphasis on is kind of what you’re going to see improvement on. We’ve definitely emphasized it. As players and me especially you just have to do a better job with it.

“The ball is job security. So, I understand that. Really it’s time to make action on that quickly.”

He wouldn’t get into the specifics of the conversation with Belichick when he was benched. He would only say, “Just the way the game went is what it is.” Backup Bailey Zappe, who was cut out of training camp before rejoining the 53-man roster, replaced him under center.


Jones has thrown four interceptions in four games this season.

“You take away those turnovers, and it’s a different story,” Jones said. “I have to learn to do that better. I have to do that quick. Now is the time. And I’m going to put a lot of time into that and focus on what I can do better. The guys around me are doing a good job. We’re definitely working hard. Just excited to try to come out of this hole that I dug.”

Jones was asked about the support he has from teammates after his early season struggles.

The former Alabama QB explained what he has to do to earn trust from the rest of the team.

“Yeah, I think for me, I’ve just got to go out there and win some games, and that’s what it all comes down to is going out there, doing my part,” Jones said. “I’m working hard. I know I can do it. I have to believe in myself, and I didn’t really give them a lot to believe in the other night, but I will show that I can do it. That comes from hard work and trusting myself and trusting them.”

Jones, as well as other players, have said in the past that they believe the team is close to putting it all together. It certainly didn’t look that way on Sunday in the worst loss by points margin of Belichick’s 23-year tenure as head coach.

It might be a while before the Patriots can convincingly state that they’re “close.”

“Definitely hard to say that because you can’t play like that and feel good about it, but I do feel like we have a really good team,” Jones said. “I have a great respect for the guys in the locker room. I just have to do a better job playing good football. For me, that just starts with staying positive and learning what I can do better. I know I’m going to fight. I know they’re going to fight. That’s all you can ask for.”

Belichick said Sunday that Jones will continue to be the Patriots’ starter. It would seemingly take a lot for Belichick to turn to Zappe or third-stringer Will Grier. But sitting Jones on Sunday showed that it’s at least closer to becoming a reality.

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