For the third game in a row, the New England Patriots did not just lose in disappointing fashion but also saw a notable number of players get injured along the way. Their 24-21 defeat against the Buffalo Bills saw four men go down at one point. While some did eventually remain in the game, two starters left the game for good and are therefore worth keeping a close eye on as the team is trying to get back on track after four straight losses.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injuries from their most recent game in Buffalo.
DT Lawrence Guy: After already suffering an in-game injury last week and subsequently being listed as questionable on the Patriots’ injury report due to an ankle issue, Lawrence Guy again had to leave the field on Sunday. This time, his shoulder was the problem after he landed hard on it on an 18-yard Bills run early in the second half. Guy, who had played 20 defensive snaps up until that point, left for the locker room and was declared questionable to return. He did not reenter the game, however, and eventually ruled out.
CB J.C. Jackson: With Stephon Gilmore out because of a knee injury, J.C. Jackson took over as the top perimeter cornerback. As such, he likely would have played all 58 defensive snaps if not for what appeared to be cramps midway through the third quarter. After sitting out one third down that saw the defense come up with a stop, he returned to the lineup and eventually finished the game with 57 snaps. The Patriots should likely not be worried about Jackson.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: After already losing one starter for the remainder of the game in the second half, the Patriots also saw linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley go down. The third-year man came down hard after a missed tackle midway through the fourth quarter and was diagnosed with a groin injury. While he did leave the field under his own power, the team classified him as questionable to return — something he did not do.
RB Damien Harris: On the first play of the Patriots’ final drive, the team’s top running back was tackled hard at the end of a 6-yard run. Harris had his wind knocked out of him, but after missing two snaps following the collision with Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was back on the field. He ran the football three more times for a combined 11 yards afterwards, and should be good to go heading into preparations for the game against New York.
What this means for the Patriots
While J.C. Jackson and Damien Harris did miss some time after their respective injuries, they both appeared to be relatively minor. The same cannot definitively be said about the ailments that knocked Lawrence Guy and Ja’Whaun Bentley out of the contest, though, which could be a problem for a defensive front-seven that is already light on starting-caliber players.
With Guy out and Carl Davis inactive, the Patriots turned to Nick Thurman to fill the fourth role in the interior defensive line rotation alongside Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Byron Cowart. The former practice squad member did not convince in his starting role, and played an active role in the team’s struggles against the run — an issue that will only be exacerbated in case Guy misses any time because of his shoulder.
Of course, the Patriots could get some help up front this week: fellow defensive tackle Beau Allen is eligible to return off injured reserve, with the three-week window to activate him to the 53-man roster still open for 10 more days. Allen returning would help the team’s depth regardless of Guy’s status, but might be come necessary if the team captain is unable to go.
As for Bentley, he was replaced by second-round pick Josh Uche in the lineup. Fellow rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings, meanwhile, did not see the field on defense after setting new career-highs in back-to-back weeks. If Bentley misses some time due to his groin issue, both will likely get an uptick in playing time as New England’s top remaining off-the-ball options.
Of course, the next few days and the team’s return to practice will give us a clearer picture when it comes to the Patriots’ medical situation.