When we last left the New England Patriots, they were being physically beaten in every way possible by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. This was due to their massive amount of injuries throughout the roster. We thought that coming into this season, things would be different. The team is healthy, and they will be right in the mix for their fifth Lombardi Trophy. It has become apparent over the last week that it will be another season of backups and role players finding starting jobs. Let’s talk about some of these injuries, and how long New England will be without these important pieces.
RB Dion Lewis suffered a setback during his recovery process for the torn ACL he experienced last season. This will, reportedly, require another surgery to clean out the knee. Fans were expecting to see him back for the beginning of the season, and maybe, even back at his full ability during the second half, but this will certainly temper those expectations. Lewis will likely remain on the PUP list and will be able to return between weeks six and nine. His role will be filled by the likes of James White and possibly undrafted rookie D.J. Foster. White was a less flashy version of Lewis in the receiving game, as they both averaged just over 10 yards per reception. The biggest differences in their play-styles are Lewis’ ability as a true running back, and his ability to make guys miss in the open field. Foster has not shown much in training camp or free agency due to the fact he was sidelined. He now has just a brief time to show why he deserves a spot on this team.
RT Sebastian Vollmer has dealt with injury problems throughout his career, so it is no surprise that another one has crept up on him. He is reportedly dealing with both a shoulder injury that required off-season surgery and a nagging hip injury. Vollmer will likely remain on the PUP list as well, until the team has to make a decision in week nine. The 32-year-old German spent a good chunk of last year dealing with an ankle injury as well. We may see Vollmer, who has taken a beating in his career, walk away from the game if he sees thinks it may cause long-term discomfort. He will likely be replaced by OT Marcus Cannon. Many football fans, including myself, may be wiping away their tears from their devices right now, but the one thing we can look at for hope is Cannon’s relationship with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The only time Cannon had even moderate success was with Scar before Dave DeGuglielmo took over. Maybe the frustrating experiment with Cannon can finally be somewhat acceptable. If not, the Patriots always have Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle to rely on…..
Second-year guard Shaq Mason sustained a broken hand, likely during practice last week. He was set to be the starting right guard before the injury and was replaced by Josh Kline in the game against the Chicago Bears last Thursday. We have seen plenty of guys play with broken hands wearing clubs and other equipment designed to protect the injury. He will probably miss the first week or two of the season, but it shouldn’t be too long before we see him back on the field. Kline, who started 13 games last year at both guard spots, will be a suitable replacement in the meantime.
DE Jabaal Sheard has apparently been dealing with a sprained MCL. The injury was suffered in the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, and the starting defensive end has not seen any time since then. An MCL sprain usually takes between 2-6 weeks to heal depending on the case. This would bring Sheard back around week three at the latest. New England traded DE Chandler Jones during the off-season, because they expected to have depth at the position. Since, the Patriots have watched Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, and Shea McClellin all go down with injuries. With these injuries ranging in severity, it is a possibility that the starting defensive end pairing in the opening game is Chris Long and Trey Flowers.
*Note TE Rob Gronkowski left practice over a week ago and has not returned. It is not expected to be serious, but should be noted.
New England seemed to be lucky when they missed out on a serious injury to WR Julian Edelman, but that luck has run its course. Let’s pray for healthy week three of the preseason, and no more serious news.