The New England Patriots have had one of those seasons with a number of key injuries. With a dozen players on injured reserve or NFI (Non-Football Injury) already, the Patriots added another key contributor to the list.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowksi was added to injured reserve with a hip injury. Expected to undergo surgery for the hip injury, Gostkowski is not expected to return until next season.
In another transaction, the Patriots released oft-injured wide receiver Cameron Meredith who had been on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list.
This week has eight players on the injured list.
PATRIOTS INJURIES ON OFFENSE
On offense, the Patriots have three wide receivers on the injury report. Julian Edelman, who was injured in week three and played 95% of the snaps but was clearly limited in week four, has been a limited participant in practice all week with his chest/rib injury. Last week Edelman had just four catches for 30 yards on seven targets (all statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted).
Josh Gordon–who struggled against Buffalo last week–still played 89% of the snaps despite leaving the field multiple times with hand and knee injuries. He was on the injury report as limited with a knee injury and no mention of the hand injury. Gordon had just three receptions last week for 46 yards. He was a full participant on Friday and is expected to be good to go.
Punt returned Gunner Olszewski was a new addition to the injury list on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. Olszewski, who had a fumble returned for a touchdown against the Jets in week three, was completely invisible against Buffalo with a fair catch and the rest of the punts not fielded. Part of that was the strong punting (and one shank) by Buffalo’s Core Bojorquez, but if the hamstring was a question mark at any time during the game it makes sense he was limited in returns.
He was removed from the injury report on Thursday. If fully healthy, he should contribute to field position as the Patriots started five drives inside the 20 yard line last week versus Buffalo.
At long last, there are no tight ends on the injury report. Matt 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 (who is off the injury report after having been listed with a chest injury), LaCosse has played just 52 snaps through four games.
Veteran tight end Ben Watson is returning from suspension and a corresponding move must be made to add him to the roster. He practiced for the first time on Thursday and the Patriots have a roster exemption for him. With Izzo the better blocker, LaCosse’s roster spot could be in danger considering his limited role and contribution (two catches for 33 yards in two games).
Certainly, the Patriots had more than 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). The good news for New England is who is not on the injured list. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse was questionable last week with an illness but played on Sunday and was no longer on the injury report.
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.
Last week also saw running back Rex Burkhead added to the injury report with a foot injury. He was limited in the game playing just 12 snaps of offense, although he did play 16 snaps on special teams. He had no rushing attempts versus Buffalo and was targeted just once in the passing game. He remains limited with a foot injury.
PATRIOTS INJURIES ON DEFENSE
On defense, the Patriots have four players on the injury report up from three last week.
Defensive end Michael Bennett was still listed on the injury report with a shoulder injury but he was a full participant in practice this week. He was questionable last week but played 30% of the defensive snaps and is expected to be a contributor on Sunday in Washington.
A shoulder limited Dont’a Hightower on Wednesday and Thursday and he was listed the same last week. Hightower did not play last week against Buffalo and he is questionable this week. New England has had the luxury of resting him as Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts have been able to step-up and contribute.
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Special teams star and safety Nate Ebner was limited with a groin injury last week but still played his 25 snaps on special teams as normal. He remains limited this week but is expected to travel to Washington and play.
A new addition this week was safety Patrick Chung. He played 96% of the snaps last week as usual but he has been limited this week with a heel injury. If he is limited or cannot play, expect veteran Terrence Brooks (who has played primarily on special teams) to take a larger role. Relax, it is likely not to be recently signed Jordan Richards playing with the regular defense.
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.
WASHINGTON INJURIES ON OFFENSE
Washington is 0-4 and head coach Jay Gruden desperately needs a win playing at home this week. Facing the 4-0 Patriots is not an ideal match-up. Washington has a number of injuries to key players at key positions heading into Sunday’s match-up.
At the top of the injury list are key contributors on offense. Both tight ends have not practiced. Vernon Davis is in concussion protocol and has not practiced. He is very unlikely to play. Also in concussion protocol is their other starting quality tight end Jordan Reed. Reed is also not likely to play after having not played in 2019. Both have been ruled out for Sunday. The Redskins are down to Jeremy Sprinkle (12 career receptions and now in his third NFL season) at tight end.
On the offensive line Washington has issues as well. First off, franchise left tackle Trent Williams continues to hold out after having issues last year with the team training and medical personnel. His continued inaction is a big reason why the team is 0-4 coming into this week five match-up.
Brandon Scherff was the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and remains a key component of the offensive line. Scherff has not practiced this week due to an ankle injury and will not play on Sunday. That leaves rookie fourth round draft pick Wes Martin to step in again at guard.
In the middle, the Redskins have center Chase Roullier as limited in practice all week. Roullier did not go last week and 33 year old journeyman Tony Bergstrom had to start in his place. Bergstrom has started 16 games in his career dating back to 2012. Roullier is questionable and expected to be a game-time decision.
The offense also has starting quarterback Case Keenum limited with a foot injury. Keenum is officially questionable but will not be the starter. His status as a back-up will be a game day decision. Washington has already announced that Colt McCoy will be the starter.
Finally on offense, star rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin is on the injury report with a tweaked hamstring. A third-round draft pick, the speedster from Ohio State has been impressive with 16 receptions for 257 yards and three touchdowns in just three games. He missed last week’s game against the Giants and is officially questionable on Sunday. If he does not play it is a big advantage for the New England defense.
WASHINGTON INJURIES ON DEFENSE
On defense, Washington special teams player and back-up linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons is out with a hamstring injury. He did not play a snap on defense this season so his loss is not a big one.
The Redskins have starting defensive lineman Matthew Ioannidis on the injury list with a foot injury but he is expected to play being a full participant in practice this week. Nose tackle Da’ron Payne, also listed on the injury report with a knee injury has been a full participant and should be good to go Sunday.
The question mark is cornerback Josh Norman. He was limited on Wednesday but did not practice on Thursday. He did practice fully according to Washington on Friday. He is officially questionable for Sunday and with Josh Gordon his expected match-up, it will be a big drop-off in talent if Norman cannot go. He is likely a game-day decision as well.