On the same day that tight end Aaron Hernandez made his
triumphant return to the field, the Patriots had to withstand injuries to five
different players during the underwhelming defeat.
Patrick Chung and Sterling Moore were forced out of action
with undisclosed injuries, leaving an already struggling secondary even further
depleted. Rookie running back Brandon Bolden left the game early with a leg
injury, potentially further damaging his ailing knee and taking away the
Patriots' most productive rushing option on Sunday. Brandon Lloyd slammed
violently down onto the turf with an apparent arm injury late in the game but
was able to return a few plays later. Even special teams captain Matthew Slater
could be seen hobbling off the field after a kickoff, leaving the field not to
None of the injuries appeared to be season ending, although
test results could always prove otherwise. But the nicks and bruises remain an
area of concern and continue to be a significant storyline for the Patriots
Hernandez's ankle sprain back in Week 2 was just the tip of
the injury iceberg in New England. Since, keys cogs like Steve Gregory, Dont'a
Hightower, Julian Edelman and even Logan Mankins, among many others, have
missed game action. And just as Hernandez's return seemed to be changing things
for the Patriots, Sunday only managed to worsen the blow.
While the injuries to Chung and Lloyd don't seem all that
serious, as Lloyd reentered the game and Chung was healthy enough to do his
normal postgame interview on WBZ-TV after the loss, some serious issues remain.
Bolden's knee injury had already limited him in practice
ahead of the game in Seattle, and if his most recent injury is in any way
related then it could be a few weeks before we see him again.
The other primary concern for New England coming out of the
loss would be the health of Slater. The Patriots' sixth receiver saw a few snaps
on offense on Sunday, filling in while Wes Welker fixed some equipment issues,
but his chief contribution continues to come on special teams. The way Slater
hobbled off the field definitely drew some red flags, even if he left the
locker room under his own power,
and his absence in the return game would be a major loss for the Patriots as
already evidenced by Seattle's 25-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots definitely have the depth and talent to
overcome nearly any injury, whether big or small. But when they continue to
pile up the way they have in New England over the past few weeks, replacing
such important pieces becomes that much more challenging.
There's absolutely no doubt that Bill Belichick is a
mastermind when it comes to finding talent to fill temporary or even permanent
holes on his roster. But while the severity of these injuries may not be
terribly threatening, the increasing amount of players popping up on the
practice report should be of great concern.
There is plenty of time to recover ahead of next Sunday's
showdown with the Jets and plenty of games left to be played this season. If
the Patriots can't return to full health soon, their underwhelming 3-3 start
could well become a disappointing season on the whole.