After a 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in which multiple starters departed with injuries, the New England Patriots may be in the department for reinforcements. Lucky for them, some could be on their way.
New England began the regular season with five players on either the injured reserve (IR) or physically unable to perform list (PUP). That list included several starters/contributors, including Tyquan Thornton, Jack Jones, Riley Reiff, Cody Davis, and Trey Flowers.
With the NFL schedule now flipping to Week 5, each of those players can now return to practice and be activated after missing the first four weeks of the season.
“We’ll see how that goes. That’s a possibility,” Bill Belichick said Monday morning. “As players come into that range of being eligible, then we ramp up the activity that they do to see how close they are and how well prepared they are.
“So, some of that will depend on how things went over the weekend and how things go Monday and Tuesday here before Wednesday’s practice for players like that. So, we’ll see how that goes. Maybe.”
Once a player returns to the practice fields, they will be labeled as “designated to return” and New England will have a 21-day window to place them on the active roster. Let’s take a closer look at the statuses of each of the Patriots’ five players on the IR/PUP.
WR Tyquan Thornton (IR)
Thornton landed on the IR to start the season for the second straight year — this time after suffering an undisclosed shoulder injury during joint practices with the Green Bay Packers.
The good news for the Patriots is Thornton has been around the facility and appears to be close to retuning to action. New England’s offense could use him, as they currently lack explosiveness on offense. The speedster can hopefully provide a downfield separator and help open things up for Mac Jones and New England’s other receivers.
OL Riley Reiff (IR)
Reiff suffered a leg/knee injury in the Patriots’ final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Prior to that, New England’s top free agency addition along the offensive line opened training camp at right tackle before bumping inside to play guard.
The 34-year old’s timeframe is murky, but New England could certainly use the depth along the offensive line with Cole Strange still banged up and questions remaining at the right tackle position.
CB Jack Jones (IR)
New England’s cornerback depth took another brutal hit with Christian Gonzalez leaving Sunday’s game early. With Gonzalez out, Jonathan Jones still nursing an ankle injury, and both Marcus and Jack Jones on IR, the Patriots desperately need bodies back at the position.
While Jack Jones’ return would help, the 25-year old cornerback does not appear to be close to ready after suffering a significant hamstring injury in practice earlier this offseason. The expectation is a midseason return is more in play.
ST Cody Davis (PUP)
Davis began the season on the PUP list as he works his way back from a serious knee injury he suffered in Week 6 of last season. The Patriots resigned Davis this past offseason and the 34-year old continues to be around the facility.
In his absence, Adrian Phillips has served as the personal protector on punt duties. It may stay that way as there has not been much clarity of Davis’ potential timeline.
DE Trey Flowers (PUP)
New England signed Flowers to the team in August before quickly moving him over to the PUP list. While the injury was not known, the 30-year old spent the majority of last season on IR with a foot injury.
There have not been many details about Flowers’ potential return time, but he has been another player who’s often spotted around the facility. New England could use him after Matthew Judon suffered a biceps injury on Sunday that will likely sideline him for extended time.