The New England Patriots’ offense was out of sync for most of its Week 6 game against the Denver Broncos. One reason for that may have been the fact that the team was able to practice only twice over the last two weeks due to its Coronavirus outbreak, another that the Patriots had to adjust on the fly after losing yet another member of their starting offensive line: right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor left the game in the first quarter.
His apparent ankle injury made Eluemunor the third starter up front to suddenly become unavailable: right guard Shaq Mason was moved to the Reserve/Covid-19 list over the weekend; center David Andrews remained on injured reserve after undergoing surgery on his thumb. While Mason’s status remains up in the air for the time being, Andrews could soon make his comeback.
After all, the team captain is now eligible to be reactivated off of injured reserve again after sitting out three games — a span during which the Patriots turned to starting left guard Joe Thuney and veteran James Ferentz to fill the void. With Ferentz being diagnosed with the Coronavirus on Friday, however, the depth up front was left thinner than desired against Denver.
Andrews possibly returning this week therefore would come at just the right time given the questions surrounding Mason and Eluemunor. And he is not the only high-profile player to possibly be welcomed back: linebacker Josh Uche is now also eligible to return.
One of the Patriots’ second-round selections in this year’s draft, Uche has yet to take the field as a pro: the Michigan product was inactive each of the first two games of the regular season before being moved to IR ahead of Week 3’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders due to ankle and foot ailments. Uche is more of a wildcard than Andrews at this point in his career, but he could help bolster New England’s depth in the defensive front-seven.
With John Simon, Chase Winovich and Shilique Calhoun manning the edge and Ja’Whaun Bentley and rookie Anfernee Jennings establishing themselves as the top off-the-ball options, New England’s linebackers have looked solid as of late. More quality depth and versatility can still help fortify the group, though, especially with outside linebacker Derek Rivers also currently being on the Reserve/Covid-19 list.
Once Andrews and/or Uche return to practice — whether it is this week or at a later point — they will be in the activation window: they will not count against the Patriots’ 53-man roster just yet, but can be activated within a three-week span. If such a move happens, they would join the active team. If not, they would miss the remainder of the season on injured reserve.