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REPORT: Patriots RG Shaq Mason suffers injury, return “unknown at this time.”

The hits keep coming as the Patriots offense is dropping like flies.

I think we’re done. Shortly after reporting that New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis needs a second surgery on his knee, and that RT Sebastian Vollmer is headed to the injured reserve, Globe report Jim McBride has one last piece of soul-crushing news to announce.

Right guard Shaq Mason is injured and his return is unknown.

In the grand scheme of today’s reports, this is the “best”. A broken hand shouldn’t be a season-ender and he could wear a club on his hand so he can play (although that’s better for defensive linemen). Mason is a leading candidate for the short-term injured reserve so he could return mid-season without taking up a roster spot.

Edit: the new injure reserve (IR) rules means the team does not have to designate a player as “short-term” at the beginning. They can reactivate any player that has spent 6 weeks on the IR.

The Patriots are fine on the depth chart if Mason is hurt for any serious period of time since veteran Josh Kline is ready to take over. Kline is a worse run blocker, but a better pass blocker; Kline also appeared to hurt his shoulder in the second quarter against the Bears, but did not leave the game. Kline’s play fell off in 2015 after he suffered a different shoulder injury.

The injury also opens the door for Jonathan Cooper to return from his foot injury with a chance at playing time. Cooper was the starting right guard for the team while both Mason and Kline were not participating in camp, so he is a legitimate option.

I would not be surprised if back-up center Bryan Stork took some snaps at guard so he could grow his skillset in the preseason. The Patriots need as many versatile linemen as they can get at this point.