Two members of the New England Patriots’ active roster had already been declared out when the team kicked off its Thursday night game against the New York Giants. When the 35-14 contest was over, the list of players dealing with injuries had to be expanded quite a bit: wide receiver Josh Gordon, tight end Matt LaCosse, fullback Jakob Johnson, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive backs Patrick Chung and J.C. Jackson all suffered injuries.
While the severity of the issues varies — while Jakob Johnson is expected to get placed on injured reserve, for example, J.C. Jackson later returned to the game — the fact remains that the team’s overall health is a concern six weeks into the season. Luckily for the Patriots, however, they will get sufficient rest: the players are given three days off, while the team will not play a game until October 21 when it visits the New York Jets on Monday night.
Needless to say that the mini-bye comes at an opportune time for the undefeated world champions, and head coach Bill Belichick sees it the same way: “We’re glad we have a few extra days here to kind of rest, recover and evaluate where we’re at here and be ready to move forward for the Jets, which comes on a long week so when you add them all together, other than a bye it’s about as much time as you’re going to get during the NFL season.”
“We’ll try to take advantage of that and utilize whatever time we have, which is what we always try to do, utilize it efficiently,” added Belichick when talking about his team’s approach to the additional days of rest during a conference call on Friday. “There’s certainly a lot of things we need to work on; there’s certainly a lot of things that we can evaluate. We have six games and these guys have been playing a lot of football.”
Over the first six weeks of the season, New England’s players saw plenty of action in all three phases: center Ted Karras, for instance, has been on the field for all of the team’s 444 offensive snaps this season while also playing 35 on special teams. While he is the Patriots’s leader in total snaps so far, he is far from the only member of the team to see extensive playing time between opening day and the game against the Giants.
“Really, it’s been pretty non-stop for the last 12 weeks going back to the start of training camp in July,” said Belichick when discussing his players’ workload earlier this week. “You grind all the way through camp, grind through six regular season games. It’s tough. But now it’s an opportunity to get a little window and so we’ll try to take advantage of that and be ready to go against the Jets.”