The New England Patriots did not just lose their Week 11 game against the Houston Texans, they also saw two of their core players on offense go down with an injury: running back Rex Burkhead hurt his knee in the third quarter, offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn his in the fourth. Today, both will be sent to injured reserve — two roster moves amid a series made by the Patriots ahead of their upcoming contest against the Arizona Cardinals, as first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates.
OT Isaiah Wynn: Placed on injured reserve
As noted above, Wynn went down in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ game in Houston and was unable to finish the contest. While he reportedly avoided a season-ending injury, the team has still decided to keep him on the sidelines for at least three weeks after he was unable to participate in practice all week long — his third trip to injured reserve in as many seasons in the NFL.
Wynn had to spend his entire rookie season on IR after tearing his Achilles tendon 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%).
Now, however, he will be out for the foreseeable future. On Sunday, his spot in the lineup was filled by Jermaine Eluemunor. Moving forward, it seems as if either Eluemunor remains as the Patriots’ left tackle until Wynn is back or that impressive rookie Michael Onwenu moves over from his starting right tackle spot. Alternatively, New England could also use left guard Joe Thuney to replace the former first-round draft pick (with Onwenu and Eluemunor completing the lineup at left guard and right tackle, respectively).
RB Rex Burkhead: Placed on injured reserve
Before his season-ending injury — he confirmed as much earlier this week — Burkhead played a valuable role for New England’s offense. While Sony Michel and, later, Damien Harris saw most of the carries on early downs, he has served as a rotational change-of-pace option alongside them. In this role, Burkhead had been on the field for 269 of a possible 662 offensive snaps (40.6%), which is actually leading the Patriots’ running back group.
Furthermore, he has added 112 snaps in the kicking game — more than only five other players on the roster. Burkhead was prominently featured in two phases of the game and a true all-around player, one that will undoubtably be missed for a team trying to make a late push for a playoff spot.
With him no longer available, however, the Patriots’ running back depth is down to the aforementioned Harris and Michel as well as third-down/receiving option James White. New England also has undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor available as a potential change-of-pace option, even though he has not seen the field since Week 3.
DT Carl Davis: Placed on injured reserve
While Wynn and Burkhead were unable to finish last Sunday’s game in Houston, Carl Davis did not suffer any obvious injury. Nevertheless, he missed two of New England’s practices this week because of a concussion — an ailment that already forced him to miss two games earlier this season — and was listed as questionable heading into the weekend. Now, he will miss at least three more contests.
With Davis out, the Patriots’ interior defensive line suffers another blow after the team already lost Beau Allen for the remainder of the season earlier this year. Moving forward, New England has to rely on Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Deatrich Wise Jr, Byron Cowart and Isaiah Mack. The team also has Akeem Spence, Nick Thurman and Bill Murray on its practice squad.
OT Justin Herron: Activated from injured reserve
Herron, who was selected in the sixth round of this year’s draft, served as the Patriots’ fourth tackle to open the season but had to be moved to IR because of an ankle injury he suffered during the Patriots’ Week 7 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Following the transaction, he had to sit out at least three games before being allowed to rejoin his teammates on the practice field — something the youngster did 10 days ago.
Now, Herron will rejoin the 53-man squad again to offer depth with Wynn being added to injured reserve. With Michael Onwenu and Jermaine Eluemunor expected to fill starting spots along the line moving forward, Herron is expected to play the third role behind the two.