Their 27-20 loss against the Houston Texans in Week 11 was a devastating one for New England Patriots not just because of the final result and its potential impact on the team’s playoff hopes, but also because two cornerstone players were lost to injury along the way: running back Rex Burkhead went down with a knee ailment in the early third quarter, with left tackle Isaiah Wynn hurting his right knee or ankle in the fourth.
Burkhead’s injury later turned out to be of the season-ending variety, supposedly a torn ACL. On Tuesday, the veteran back took to social media to confirm that he will miss the remainder of the 2020 season.
When it comes to Wynn’s injury, meanwhile, it appears that he and the team dodged a bullet. While his status for the upcoming game against the Arizona Cardinals is in question, and the true nature of his injury is not yet known outside of One Patriot Place, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that the former first-round draft pick “avoided a major injury” when he went down against the Texans.
This is obviously good news on all fronts.
Wynn entered the weekend being listed as questionable because of an ankle injury but still played every offensive snap before going down on the Patriots’ final offensive series: he got rolled up from behind and walked off the field slowly. As opposed to Burkhead, who was ruled out almost immediately after being carted from the sideline, the team did not announce an injury status. This had more to do with the time of the injury, though.
However, it seems as if the third-year man avoided a devastating injury for the third straight year. Wynn, after all, had to spend his entire rookie season on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in preseason, and later missed half the 2019 campaign as well following a turf toe injury suffered in Week 2. This year, though, he has been a model of consistency both in terms of performance and ability to stay on the field.
Even after departing Sunday’s game, Wynn still leads the Patriots with 640 offensive snaps out of 662 (96.7%). As for his outlook, Wednesday’s first injury report of the week will give us more clarity.
On Sunday, his spot in the lineup was filled by Jermaine Eluemunor. Based on that, the educated guess is that either Eluemunor remains as the Patriots’ left tackle until Wynn is back — whenever that may be — or that impressive rookie Michael Onwenu moves over from his starting right tackle spot. Either way, New England has some depth at the position, especially with fellow rookie Justin Herron also designated to return from injured reserve.
Nevertheless, losing a player of Wynn’s caliber and importance is still a blow regardless of the length of his potential absence.