The New England Patriots had to see numerous players go down with injury during their 10-3 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. One of them stands out among the others, though: core special teamer Brandon King had to be carted off the field after a punt in the late second quarter. The 26-year-old did not return following his departure, and it looks like he may not be back on the gridiron in quite some time.
According to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, King suffered a torn quadriceps that will likely sideline him for the remainder of the season. Losing him will be a big blow for the Patriots: King is a member of all four kick coverage units, and one of the most experienced and productive special teamers on the roster. Last year, for example, he played 344 of a possible 545 snaps in the kicking game (63.1%) and was tied for the team-lead with 13 tackles.
King, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Patriots during the offseason, was a lock to make the team and is therefore the first major injury suffered by the reigning world champions. If McBride’s report turns out to be accurate, he will soon join rookie cornerback D’Angelo Ross on New England’s season-ending injured reserve list. In turn, the team will have one open spot on its roster — and a big hole to fill on special teams.
Three other Patriots have reportedly avoided major injury on Thursday: while tight end Benjamin Watson is in the concussion protocol following a late hit from Panthers safety Eric Reid, Nate Ebner and Gunner Olszewski are both expected back soon after also leaving yesterday’s contest.