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What placing defensive tackle Christian Barmore on injured reserve means for the Patriots

Related: Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore lands on injured reserve

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Shortly after ruling him out for the upcoming game against the New York Jets, the New England Patriots sent second-year defensive tackle Christian Barmore on their injured reserve list.

Barmore had been dealing with a knee injury since mid-October, and has not played any games since. While there was some optimism about him coming off the bye week, the 23-year-old appears to have suffered some sort of setback recently — a setback that has forced the team to take some relatively drastic steps.

What does all of that mean for the Patriots, though? Let’s find out.

Barmore will miss at least four more games: After already sitting out the previous three games because of his knee issue, four more will follow. Per NFL rules, players sent to IR need to sit out at least four contests before being eligible to return.

In Barmore’s case, this means that he will be out against the New York Jets this Sunday as well as the Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals in the following weeks. His earliest possible return date is Week 15 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Patriots’ pass rush will miss him: Yes, Barmore has not appeared in the last three games and the New England pass rush still looked good. Make no mistake, though, having the former second-round draft pick on the field improves the unit drastically; Barmore, after all, is the team’s best interior pass rusher and helps make the job of those around him easier due to the attention he commands.

Barmore, after all, is among the league leaders in drawing double teams at the defensive tackle position. Having the likes of him and Matthew Judon attack the pocket would create a “pick your poison” scenario for opposing teams — only six opponents have had to deal with it so far this year, though.

The defensive tackle depth continues to get tested: Procedurally, the Patriots are not entering any new territory. Barmore having missed the previous three games already prepared the team for the next four, in a way. This means that we already know how New England will try to replace the second-year man.

The main man to watch is Daniel Ekuale. A former rookie free agent who is in his second season with the Patriots, Ekuale has been the beneficiary of Barmore missing time. While not the same attention-drawing or generally disruptive presence up front, the 28-year-old has had some solid moments as a sub pass rusher recently; for the next four weeks he will continue to be the next man up in obvious passing situations.

Other than Ekuale, the Patriots have five other interior defensive linemen on their active roster or practice squad: Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy and Carl Davis Jr. are better suited to serve as big-bodied gap-controllers on early downs, while sixth-round draft pick Sam Roberts has failed to carve out regular playing time even with Barmore out; the team also has fellow rookie Jeremiah Pharms Jr. on its practice squad.

The Patriots can survive with this group — they have the last few weeks — but given the teams coming up, not having Barmore is a definitive blow.

New England’s challenging sophomore story gets another chapter: The Patriots’ 2021 draft class showed tremendous promise last season, but it has not been able to build on it so far. First-round quarterback Mac Jones and second-round defensive tackle Christian Barmore have both missed time due to injury, as has third-round linebacker Ronnie Perkins (who is on season-ending injured reserve).

The late-round selections, meanwhile, have not had any notable impact — with one exception: Rhamondre Stevenson has been one of the better running backs in the NFL this season, and has emerged as a true RB1 recently. He is as valuable a member of the offensive skill position group as anybody.

On the whole, however, the 2022 campaign has been a challenge for the group of sophomores.