The New England Patriots’ loss against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday was a costly one, for more than the obvious reason. The team being officially eliminated from playoff contention by dropping its record to 6-8 on the year dominated the headlines after the game, but the team also suffered a series of injuries worth talking about: five starting-level players on both sides of the ball were hurt during the 22-12 defeat in Miami.
With that said, let’s take a look at the Patriots’ injury situation after their win in Los Angeles.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: Bentley left the game in the late first period because of an arm injury, even though he did not visibly get hurt at any point during the drive leading up to his departure. Still, he left the field right before J.C. Jackson’s red zone interception and headed to the locker room. Bentley never returned, and the Patriots had to defend Miami’s offense without its number one off-the-ball linebacker option for the remaining three quarters.
CB Stephon Gilmore: New England’s star cornerback stayed down on the ground after a pass play in the late second quarter with what was later announced to be a knee ailment. The non-contact injury looked potentially devastating at first glance, but that did not turn out to be an accurate assessment: Gilmore suffered a torn quad instead of potential ligament damage in his knee. While the injury will require surgery and keep him out for the rest of the season, there is a chance that he is back and ready again once New England kicks off its offseason preparation.
LB Chase Winovich: In the late third quarter, Winovich appeared to hurt his chest or abdominal area during a collision while covering on a kickoff. The issue appeared to be only minor in nature, though, as the second-year man was back on the field just a few plays later in his usual role as an outside linebacker. All in all, he finished the game with 19 snaps on defense (26%) and 14 on special teams (64%).
LB John Simon: Following a pass play late in the third period, John Simon left the field not to return for the remainder of the game: he made a cut while trying to get to the quarterback but apparently tweaked his hamstring. Simon walked off the field under his own power but was later listed as questionable to come back. He did not, in fact, which might have contributed to the Patriots’ run defense issues late in the contest.
C David Andrews: New England’s starting center was not on the field for the team’s final series as James Ferentz took his place for the final seven offensive snaps. What led to the change? Andrews hurt his calf on the previous drive and was later classified as questionable to return. It appears as if the team captain already suffered the injury before his final play, though, as he was already seen limping one play earlier, following a 3-yard run by Sony Michel.
What this means for the Patriots
Gilmore’s season-ending quad injury is obviously the biggest loss for the team so far this season, given his status as its number one cornerback and best defensive player. With him out, New England will likely turn to J.C. Jackson the next two weeks to shadow the Buffalo Bills’ and New York Jets’ primary targets — a job he already filled well during Gilmore’s three-game absence between Weeks 8 and 10.
The Patriots having one of the deepest secondaries in football certainly softens the blow a bit, and in turn might also create opportunities for players further down the depth chart. Undrafted rookie Myles Bryant and second-year man Joejuan Williams could see increased snaps over the next two weeks with Gilmore out for the next two games.
As for the other injuries, it remains to be seen how serious they turn out to be. Winovich’s obviously should not be a major issue moving forward considering that he remained in the game, but the other three are potentially worrisome given their importance to the overall operation. That said, with the Patriots no longer competing for the postseason, the team might decide to play it as safe as possible with all of them.
The first injury report of the week, which will be released on Thursday, will give further information about their respective statuses — and whether or not Bentley, Simon and Andrews can be expected back this week.