It seems that the injury bug has really started to affect the Patriots. Over a fourth of the roster has battling something right now, although I don't know how many are serious. For the players on the bubble or considered long shots, that's an opportunity to convince the coaching staff of their worth. No one understands that more than Tom Brady, who was given his first shot when Drew Bledsoe went down in 2001. Like with Brady, some players might have one shot to make an impact with their team and that's it.
Receiver is the position where the injuries have really piled up. Julian Edelman is battling an ankle injury, Brandon LaFell is still on PUP with the foot injury he played through in the postseason, Aaron Dobson has a hammy, and Brian Tyms has a sore shoulder. That pretty much means that the top receivers left in camp are Danny Amendola, free agent signee Brandon Gibson, and Josh Boyce. Amendola has always answered the call when the Patriots needed him to make a play, so I'm not worried about him if Edelman needs a bit of extra rest to start the season. Brandon Gibson has had success before in both Josh McDaniels and Brian Daboll's offenses. He's an outside possession guy, like LaFell, who can also line up in the slot on certain plays. He's benefitted from the injuries the most, with most of the extra reps going to him. Josh Boyce still has sky-high potential in this offense, but it hasn't completely translated on the field. The extra reps could be important for him taking the next step, I believe the Patriots might need him for the regular season if the injury situation doesn't get better.
With LeGarrette Blount going down, that means opportunities for Jonas Gray and Tyler Gaffney. I like the way that Jonas Gray runs, he attacks the hole without hesitation. I would definitely like to see the Jonas Gray that worked his butt off to get an opportunity be the starting RB for the Patriots last year and not the Jonas Gray who slacked off for a day after he had his coming out party. I still like the 1-2 punch that Blount and Gray can offer at the RB position, those two can wear out defenses. I would like to see both of them put up over 100 yards and 3 TDs each against the Colts on Week 6 like they did in 2014, for more reasons than 1.
The two injury situations at receiver and running back are just two examples of injuries and how they affect the position. Right now it's the dog days of camp where it's hot outside, injuries are piling up a bit, and it's been a heavy grind for almost two weeks. Most of the starters are playing very little, if not sitting out of the game outright, in the first preseason game. In addition to the injuries, the same players getting extra opportunities in practice will be getting those opportunities on the field against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. Injuries suck when they happen, but that also means someone else is getting an opportunity. One man's misfortune often leads to another man's breakthrough moment.