The New England Patriots have set themselves three simple goals for their bye week, and getting proper rest is one of them. The Patriots, after all, have played a game in 13 straight weeks and as a result of the wear and tear have several players dealing with injuries that have either been listed on previous practice reports or came up in last Monday’s game versus the Buffalo Bills.
Needless to say that they are the ones benefitting the most from the bye: they can enjoy some much-needed time away from the grind that is practice and game day, and get themselves in the best possible shape for New England’s stretch run. Let’s take a closer look at them to find out what they are currently dealing with.
(Disclaimer: Everybody is dinged up a bit at this point in the season but instead of listing 50-plus players we will focus on those with a clear injury status)
C David Andrews: New England’s starting center popped up on the injury report last week due to a shoulder issue and was limited in practice all week. He did go on to play all 51 offensive snaps against the Bills, so the injury is likely of the minor variety.
DT Christian Barmore: After dealing with shoulder and foot injuries earlier during the season, the Patriots’ second-round rookie has recently been limited due to a knee ailment. Barmore was a limited practice participant each of the last two weeks, and even missed one session in Week 12. Barmore has proven himself a crucial member of the interior defensive line rotation; getting him back to full strength would therefore be good news for the team.
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: Bentley has been listed on the injury report ever since hurting his ribs in Week 6 against the Dallas Cowboys. He has been a limited participant in 21 straight practices, but has not missed any game time due to the issue.
RB Brandon Bolden: The veteran running back popped up on the practice report last week due to a knee injury, and played only six snaps against the Bills. However, his injury status is likely nothing to worry about: not only did the game plan work against him, he also played his usual high number of special teams snaps.
OT Trent Brown: Brown hurt his calf just seven snaps into the season opener, and he is still dealing with the issue: he was listed as questionable on every injury report since his return from IR in Week 10. That said, he has been able to participate in every game and has missed no snaps due to any medical concerns over the last three weeks.
S Kyle Dugger: The Patriots’ second-year safety was sent to the Coronavirus reserve list last week and has yet to be activated again. With the team on its bye and not scheduled to reconvene until Monday, however, there is still plenty of time for Dugger to come back and eventually play against the Indianapolis Colts next Saturday. Instead of possibly missing two games, it seems probable that he will only end up missing one due to the bye week.
K Nick Folk: While Folk remains near-automatic, he has been bothered by a left knee injury for the last 10 weeks. The issue has not forced him to miss any practice or game time, but it could quickly turn into a problem. Some time away will certainly help Folk’s recovery process.
RB Damien Harris: The Patriots’ number one running back exited Monday’s game twice due to his hamstring, and eventually ended the contest on the sidelines. The severity of the injury is not public information at this point, but one has to assume that getting rest this weekend will be beneficial for Harris’ outlook.
WR Gunner Olszewski: The All-Pro punt returner was dealing with an ankle injury last week and therefore a limited participant in practice. He was active against Buffalo, but did not return a single kick in challenging conditions.
LB Ronnie Perkins: Perkins popped up on last Saturday’s injury report because of an illness and did not make the trip to Buffalo because of it. While the bye will give him time to recover, it will likely not help him get onto the game day roster anytime soon: Perkins appears to be in the middle of a redshirt season.
S Adrian Phillips: Going down in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injury, Phillips is the biggest injury-related question mark to come out of the game against the Bills. The veteran safety suffered the injury on a pass breakup and went to the ground after a quick celebration. His status is unknown despite an encouraging social media post, but the bye certainly gives the team time to evaluate.
RB J.J. Taylor: Joining Kyle Dugger on the Covid-19 reserve list, Taylor is in the same basic boat. There still is plenty of time for the second-year back to return before the game in Indianapolis.
LB Josh Uche: Uche was sent to injured reserve in mid-November because of an ankle injury, but he is already eligible to return again. With the bye giving him another week to recover, however, the Patriots can afford to take things slowly.
Besides those players, New England also has three in the 21-day return window: rookie linebacker Cameron McGrone and rookie safety Joshuah Bledsoe have been designated to return off the non-football injury list, with veteran linebacker Harvey Langi set to come back from injured reserve. The bye also gives them some additional rest, but at the same time also robs them of a handful of opportunities to show their progress on the practice fields.
All in all, though, the Patriots are not dealing with a lot of concerning injuries at the moment. In fact, the most worrisome ailments might be those of Trent Brown, Damien Harris and Adrian Phillips as well as the two players on the Coronavirus reserve list, Kyle Dugger and J.J. Taylor.
Nonetheless, New England being on its bye now works in those players’ favor. While Dugger and Taylor should be eligible to return off the Covid-19 list soon, Brown and Harris will get to enjoy some rest and rehabilitation. Phillips’ status, on the other hand, remains in question after leaving Monday’s game late.
The first practice report of Week 15 is due to be released on Tuesday and should give us some clarity about his outlook and how the bye as a whole has helped the players named above.