The New England Patriots’ linebacking corps took another hit Sunday.
Patriots linebacker Brandon Copeland suffered a season-ending torn pec during his team’s 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium, according to a report Monday from ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio.
Copeland started four of the Patriots’ first six games this season but was on the field for just 16.2 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. (The Patriots rarely utilize their base defense, often using safety Adrian Phillips as a second linebacker alongside starter Ja’Whaun Bentley.)
Copeland was active in the kicking game, however, ranking third on the team in special teams snaps behind Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel.
The 29-year-old is in his first season with the Patriots after spending the last two with the New York Jets. He played 11 snaps on defense and 11 on special teams against the 49ers.
The Patriots lack depth at inside linebacker following the offseason departures of Dont’a Hightower (opt-out), Jamie Collins (free agency) and Elandon Roberts (free agency). Second-round draft pick Josh Uche was expected to help fill that void, but he has yet to appear in a game this season.
Uche returned to practice from injured reserve last week but was not activated ahead of Sunday’s loss. The Patriots have until Nov. 11 to add him to the 53-man roster.
Third-round rookie Anfernee Jennings saw a significant uptick in playing time against San Francisco, playing a career-high 80.3 percent of defensive snaps while switching between inside and outside linebacker.
Jennings and Bentley were New England’s two lowest-graded defenders by Pro Football Focus in the loss. San Francisco rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns and averaged 7.4 yards per play.