Next man up. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Rap Sheet has confirmed that Patriots defensive end Andre Carter will be heading to the injured reserve with a quadriceps injury. Carter was injured during a non-contact play early against the Broncos and was out for the rest of the game. He will need surgery to repair his injury which is why the Patriots will place him on the IR.
Carter will not be easy to replace. He's been the best and most consistent defender on the team and was a force in both the passing and running defensive packages. Unfortunately, he only signed a one season contract so there is a high chance that we have seen the last of the 32-year-old Carter. He was a positive influence in the locker room and could be open to receive a one year contract as a training camp invite in order to see how he's recovered from the upcoming surgery.
In order to replace Carter, the Patriots have three options:
1. Call rookie DE Markell Carter up from the practice squad. Carter has received a boost in his contract to almost the same level as a full-time rookie, which is a sign of how much the Patriots think of him. He's made strides in practice and could be ready to test the waters.
2. Bring in a veteran player. Eric Moore has been signed, but the Patriots could be looking for another player.
3. Switch to the 3-4 defense because Andre Carter was the only real reason to stay in that defense. As the Patriots linebackers get healthy, a 3-4 defense could be more effective in not only forcing the opposing teams to run up the middle, but also allowing the Patriots to have more versatility in passing defense.
To be fair, I could see the Patriots switching to a combination of all three if Ross Ventrone gets bumped off the roster again. Still, the loss of Carter is a huge blow to the defense, but it means that the Patriots will have do what they've been doing all season: have the next man step up.