The New England Patriots had a tough day against the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did they lose in rather lopsided fashion and with a final score of 33-6, they also suffered some noteworthy injuries. N’Keal Harry was knocked out of the game because of a head injury, while defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, wide receiver Julian Edelman and offensive tackle Justin Herron all missed time due to apparent ailments as well.
The injury bug also did not stop for the Patriots’ most reliable player: starting left guard Joe Thuney had to leave the contest early in the third quarter after getting rolled up on a Cam Newton scramble attempt. The veteran later went to the locker room and was eventually announced as questionable to return because of an ankle injury. Before the issue, Thuney had played every single one of New England’s 362 offensive snaps this season.
The injury is not expected to keep the 27-year-old out for long, though: according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Thuney suffered a low-ankle sprain that is “believed to be minor.” While it remains to be seen whether or not he will miss any time because of the injury — Thuney has never been absent from a game over the course of his four-plus years in the NFL — this initial diagnosis is an encouraging one for both him and the team.
Thuney, after all, has been the Patriots’ most consistent and best offensive player through six games. An outstanding left guard and able stand-in at the center position as well, the former third-round draft pick was continuing to play on the same high level that led New England to place the franchise tag on him earlier this year. From a personal perspective and with unrestricted free agency coming up, a minor injury is also the best-case scenario.
The Patriots’ return to practice on Wednesday will give us further clues about his status heading into a pivotal Week 8 game against the Buffalo Bills. In case Thuney is unable to go, New England will likely turn to either rookie Michael Onwenu or second-year man Hjalte Froholdt . This scenario will depend on the health of the other linemen, though, including the aforementioned Justin Herron and the status of his own ankle injury.