Injuries Cast Shadow Over Patriots’ Preseason Win Over Panthers


FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots moved to 3-0 on the preseason Thursday night at Gillette Stadium with a 10-3 win over the Carolina Panthers, but it wasn’t all good news coming out of Foxboro.

Ben Watson, Damien Harris, Brandon King, Lance Kendricks, Gunner Olszewski and Stephen Anderson all left New England’s third preseason contest with injuries, with King’s appearing to be the most severe.

The core special-teamer was carted off the field just before halftime after suffering an apparent left leg injury on a punt return. About 20 of his teammates, plus former teammate Chris Hogan, came onto the field to encourage him before he headed off to the tunnel. If King’s injury is as serious as it appears, it’ll be a big loss for the Patriots’ special teams unit.

Watson’s injury came on a late hit from Panthers safety Eric Reid, which left Watson on the ground while being tended to by New England’s medical staff. Reid was flagged for unnecessary roughness for the hit, but claimed after the game that it had nothing to do with a recent twitter beef between the two players. Watson did not return to the game.

Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said after the game that injuries simply are part of football. The players know what they signed up for, but Dorsett noted that it is still tough to see.

“It’s always tough because this locker room is close,” Dorsett said. “We’re all brothers in this locker room. You hate to see anybody lay on the ground for even more than a second. It’s tough, but we know it’s football. Things happen, players get hurt every day. That’s just the sacrifice we make to play the game we love. It’s tough but I hope he’s OK.”

Tight end Ryan Izzo shared similar thoughts, noting that it’s tough to see a teammate go down, but it’s part of the game.

“When you work with somebody all day and you start to get close with them, I mean it’s tough to see someone get hurt,” Izzo said. “But it’s part of the game and sometimes it just happens. … You have to move onto the next play and work on your assignment.”

Olszewski left the game and headed for the locker room after suffering an apparent head injury on his lone catch of the night. But according to NESN’s Doug Kyed, the wide receiver should be good to go for next week’s preseason finale against the New York Giants. This is great news for the D-II product as he continues his final efforts to make the roster after another impressive showing in the return game. The 22-year-old made four returns for a total of 63 yards on Thursday night.

Harris, a rookie running back out of Alabama, suffered an injury midway through the second quarter and would not return. He got run over on a play-fake away from the ball, which put him in the medical tent for quite some time before he was sent to the locker room.

The medical staff met with Anderson on the bench just before halftime, which ultimately resulted in the end of his night. He was on the sideline during the second half, but wouldn’t see the field again. Fellow tight end Lance Kendricks was helped off the field shortly after Olszewski’s injury in the fourth quarter. He headed to the locker room with one catch for 11 yards.

Yes, there were plenty of bright spots in New England’s third preseason win in as many games, but the host of injuries certainly put a damper on the victory.

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