The New England Patriots lost their third game of the season in Week 4, getting beaten 27-24 in overtime by the Green Bay Packers. To add insult to, well, injury, the team also saw several more of its players go down.
Obviously, it remains to be seen just how serious all of the issues are. For now, however, let’s take a look at the players who were either announced as injured or caught our eye after re-watching the game.
QB Brian Hoyer: Starting the contest at Lambeau Field in place of injured starting quarterback Mac Jones (ankle), Hoyer lasted just two series. He was sacked on the final play of New England’s second possession, and afterwards took a trip to the medical tent. The veteran eventually departed for the locker room, and was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a concussion. Rookie Bailey Zappe took over in his place.
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: After the final play of the first quarter, a 5-yard Packers run, Wise Jr. headed to the sidelines to get some medical assistance. As it later turned out, he dislocated one of his fingers and needed it popped back into place. He returned to the game in the second quarter and ended up playing 88 percent of defensive snaps.
WR DeVante Parker: The wide receiver appeared to show a slight limp after blocking on a Rhamondre Stevenson run in the early second period. However, Parker stayed in the game and did not show any obvious signs of injury throughout the rest of the contest while playing all but two of the team’s 58 offensive snaps.
TE Jonnu Smith: While blocking on a short Damien Harris run midway through the second quarter, Smith was rolled up from behind by Green Bay linebacker Rashan Gary. The veteran tight end stayed on the ground, and later limped off the field and into the medical tent. He walked to the locker room with a noticeable limp and was initially announced as questionable to return to the game. A short time later, Smith was ruled out with an ankle injury.
S Devin McCourty: Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown pass to tight end Robert Tonyan did not just cost the Patriots their 10-7 lead, it also saw safety Devin McCourty absorb some friendly fire: fellow safety Kyle Dugger collided with him while trying to prevent the completion. McCourty was checked out by trainers but was back in the game on the next defensive series. He ended up not missing any time, playing all 73 defensive snaps on the day.
S Adrian Phillips: Already coming into the game questionable because of a rib injury, Phillips stayed down on one knee after a run play early in the fourth quarter. He appeared to hurt his right shin while tripping in an attempt to chase the ballcarrier down from behind. The play was stopped and Phillips briefly departed the field, but he returned later in the same quarter and finish the game without any further issues.
What this means for the Patriots
After already suffering some high-profile injuries last week, New England saw even more players go down in Week 4. Brian Hoyer, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Jonnu Smith are the most noteworthy ones based on the apparent severity of their ailments.
Wise Jr.’s finger dislocation might cause some discomfort moving forward, but it will likely not be a major issue. The same cannot be said with certainty about Hoyer’s concussion or Smith’s ankle injury.
If Hoyer will miss time while in concussion protocol, Bailey Zappe is next in line to take over as the starter. He would be in a more favorable situation than on Sunday — getting actual starter-level preparation rather than coming off the bench in-game — but it would obviously not be an ideal scenario for New England.
That is especially true given that Mac Jones is also still nursing a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3. With Jones’ status uncertain and Hoyer not guaranteed a quick return to practice either, the Patriots bringing in another QB this week to bolster the depth would not be a surprise.
As for the tight end spot, it might not be in that much need of reinforcements even with Smith hurting his ankle. While he and Hunter Henry are the only pure TEs on the active roster, wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey has also been getting some tight end-like assignments on a regular basis.
The Patriots might therefore be able to survive for the time being using those two plus practice squad options Matt Sokol and Scotty Washington. That said, the group as a whole would be a significantly worse one without Smith: not only has he been solid through the first four games, Hunter Henry has also had some issues as both a blocker and a receiving target. Losing Smith would therefore undoubtably hurt.
His status, and that of the other players listed above, will become clearer in two days. The Patriots will hold their first practice of the week on Wednesday and later that day release their initial injury report of Week 5.
New England will then host the Detroit Lions at Gillette Stadium on Sunday for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.