The New England Patriots placed right tackle Marcus Cannon on the injured reserve on Wednesday because his right ankle injury had not been healing well and required surgery. Cannon was named Second Team All Pro in 2016 so his loss is a large one- and it just adds to the list of key Patriots players that can no longer play due to their injuries.
Cannon isn’t the only 2016 Second Team All Pro on the Patriots injured reserve. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and special teamer Nate Ebner are both also on the injured reserve. The New York Giants have two 2016 All Pros on the injured reserve (WR Odell Beckham Jr. and CB Janoris Jenkins) and the Baltimore Ravens could argue they have two as well (OG Marshal Yanda and then LB Zach Orr had to retire due to a back injury).
Having three All Pro caliber players on the injured reserve is difficult enough of an obstacle to overcome, but then the Patriots have had to deal with even more injuries.
The Patriots leading receiver and Super Bowl hero in 2016, Julian Edelman, is also on the injured reserve. Veteran linebacker Shea McClellin is on the injured reserve. Veteran tight end Martellus Bennett, in New England for only a few weeks, is on the injured reserve.
Three of the Patriots top five draft picks in 2016- CB Cyrus Jones, DT Vincent Valentine, and WR Malcolm Mitchell- are on the injured reserve. New England’s top two draft picks in 2017- DL Derek Rivers and OT Tony Garcia- are on the injured reserve.
No other team that is contending in the NFL has faced the same injury problem as the Patriots. Some teams are missing high-end starters, like the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs. Others are missing a big chunk of their young players, like the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints.
But no team is in the Patriots position, vying for homefield advantage and a Super Bowl, having battled through both. It’s a testament to the abilities of Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio to build a roster with enough depth to overcome these injuries, and to the other players on the team to step up and deliver when their number is called.
There’s no question that the Patriots would be better off with Cannon, Hightower, Ebner, Edelman, McClellin, and all of the young players on the roster. But it’s now up to Cameron Fleming and Kyle Van Noy and Jordan Richards to take advantage of their time on the field.