For the second game in a row, the New England Patriots did not just lose in disappointing fashion but also saw an uptick in injuries. Their 33-6 blowout loss against the San Francisco 49ers featured numerous players — mostly on the offensive side of the ball — go down. While some did eventually return, others left the game for good and are therefore worth keeping a close eye on as the team is moving into a big in-division game.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injuries from their loss against the 49ers.
WR N’Keal Harry: Facing a 3rd-and-6 on the final play of the first quarter, Cam Newton targeted N’Keal Harry over the middle of the field. The second-year receiver was unable to haul the football in, however, in large part because of a hard hit from two San Francisco defenders. To make matters worse, he stayed on the ground after the collision and later had to leave the field for the blue medical tent and the locker room alongside the NFL’s concussion spotter. Harry was initially listed as questionable with a head injury, but later ruled out of the contest altogether.
DT Lawrence Guy: Midway through the second quarter, the Patriots’ best defensive lineman had to stay on the ground as well after a running play: trainers came onto the field to look at Guy’s left knee before he slowly got up and walked off under his own power. While he did miss a few snaps due to the apparent injury, the veteran eventually returned and finished the game with a playing time share of 62 percent — second most on the team behind Byron Cowart.
G Joe Thuney: The opening drive of the second half ended with the Patriots failing to convert a 3rd-and-16, and with them losing their starting left guard: Joe Thuney had to leave the contest after getting rolled up from behind on a Cam Newton scramble attempt. Thuney later went to the locker room and was eventually announced as questionable to return because of an ankle injury — one that was reported after the game as a minor low-ankle sprain. Before the issue, the 28-year-old had played every single one of New England’s 362 offensive snaps this season.
WR Julian Edelman: Later in the third quarter, the Patriots also lost their most experienced wide receiver: Julian Edelman had to leave the game with an apparent injury, but later returned not just to the sideline but the field as well. He ended the game with 31 of a possible 52 offensive snaps, but his situation will still be watched closely after he entered the game being listed on the injury report because of a knee ailment.
OT Justin Herron: The Patriots had to move some pieces along their offensive line around after losing Joe Thuney, and again after Justin Herron was sent to the locker room early in the fourth period. The rookie, who played only 12 snaps at right tackle before his injury, exited with an ankle issue and just like Thuney was later listed as questionable to return. He eventually was held out for the remainder of the contest.
What this means for the Patriots
Slowly but steadily injuries are starting to mount for the Patriots. While the recent returns of David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Byron Cowart certainly help from an overall depth perspective — as will Beau Allen’s and Josh Uche’s eventual comebacks — Sunday’s game again put pressure on the team from this perspective.
This was particularly true along an offensive line that had already experienced some significant personnel instability the last few weeks, and is now closely watching Justin Herron’s and especially Joe Thuney’s respective statuses. If the starting left guard misses some time, New England again will have to reshuffle the pieces up front with only left tackle Isaiah Wynn and the aforementioned Andrews and Mason remaining in their spots.
The other injuries are equally noteworthy, although those of Lawrence Guy and Julian Edelman appear to be comparatively minor. The same can probably not be said about N’Keal Harry’s considering that he was ruled out of the contest fairly quickly after leaving the game. With him out of the lineup, fellow second-year pass catcher Jakobi Meyers saw increased snaps. If Harry is forced to miss additional time this week and beyond, Meyers could continue to see an uptick in snaps.
Of course, the next few days will give us a clearer picture when it comes to the Patriots’ medical situation. For one, the first injury report of the week leading up to the game against the Buffalo Bills will be released on Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, the team will continue to actively screen its personnel to keep a close eye on the Coronavirus situation and possibly welcome players such as Allen and Uche back from injured reserve.