The New England Patriots enter week one of the 2019 NFL season with a light injury report. With just three players listed as limited on their initial injury report on Wednesday, New England should be as close to full strength as they have been to start a season.
One of those players listed as limited on the injury report is free agent acquisition tight end Matt LaCosse. LaCosse was expected to be a major contributor on offense but he sprained his ankle in the first preseason game and missed the rest of the preseason. With only second-year tight end Ryan Izzo on the roster, expect LaCosse to be active Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers if he is anywhere close to 100%.
Of course, the Patriots are missing a pair of tight ends already due to suspensions. Veterans Lance Kendricks and Ben Watson are starting the season suspended and not on the 53-man roster. Watson will be out until week five and Kendricks is eligible to return in week two.
Certainly, the Patriots had a few major injuries to overcome heading into the season. On offense, first round draft pick wide receiver N’Keal Harry (injured reserve designated to return) and free agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith (PUP list) are out until October/November.
Another pair of rookies on the offensive line are out with guard Hjalte Froholdt–who was playing almost entire preseason games being force-fed snaps in an effort to get him up to NFL speed–injured his shoulder in the final preseason game and is out for the season. Rookie tackle Yodny Cajuste has been out all of the preseason with a quadriceps injury and is on the non-football injury (NFI) list. When and if he returns in 2019 is unknown.
The loss of starting center David Andrews is the biggest loss and leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the offensive line. He is on injured reserve and is out for the season due to blood clots in his lungs. Andrews is taking medication and will receive treatment for blood clots and New England hopes he can return in 2020.
Another offensive player on the injury report for week one is wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas–who looked good in the final preseason game–has a hamstring injury. Thomas is recovering from a torn Achilles injury from last December when he was in Houston after being traded from the Denver Broncos.
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On defense, the Patriots lost young defensive backs Malik Gant and D’Angelo Ross to injury in the preseason both are on injured reserve and will fight for a roster spot next year after both opened eyes with impressive play at training camp. Special teams ace Brandon King tore his left quadriceps in the preseason and is out for the year.
On the defensive line, the Patriots lost young pass rushers Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers. Both players are out for the season and may have lost their last chance to stick in New England. With their injuries unknown, the possibility of either being released with an injury settlement remains.
The final player for New England on the injury report is safety Obi Melifonwu. The University of Connecticut alum joined the Patriots last season but never carved out a role. Melifonwu seemed to be in competition with special teams ace Terrance Brooks for one spot. Instead, both made the final 53-man roster. However, with the Patriots hosting former second-round draft pick safety Su’a Cravens for a workout this week, Melifonwu may want to get up to speed in a hurry.
What stands out is the New England Patriots not on the injury report this week. Starting strong safety Patrick Chung–who suffered a broken forearm in Super Bowl 53–had been limited throughout training camp. Despite an off-field incident regarding a drug charge, Chung should be good to go in week one.
Also, Julian Edelman was off the injury report. Edelman missed much of the offseason after reportedly breaking his thumb. In his only preseason action, he appeared to be in discomfort after landing on the same hand as the injured thumb. If Edelman is fully healthy heading into week one, it is a big boost for the New England offense.
Two young players who were injured in the preseason also avoided the injury report. Rookie running back Damien Harris was banged-up in the preseason against the Titans and did not play again. Defensive end Shilique Calhoun had three anonymous seasons in Oakland, but he stood out in training camp and in the preseason before leaving injured against Tennessee. Both players could make their Patriots regular season debut on Sunday night against the Steelers.
-Hal Bent is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @halbent01.