The New England Patriots’ roster is in rough shape near the midway point of the season.
The 2-5 Patriots already have ruled out five players, including four starters, with injuries before their Week 9 matchup with the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
We know rookie running back J.J. Taylor (illness), wide receiver N’Keal Harry (concussion), defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (elbow, shoulder, knee), linebacker Ja’Whaune Bentley (groin) and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee) won’t play Monday night. Tight end Dalton Keene (knee) also didn’t travel to New York and was officially ruled out Monday morning.
Here are three players who could take on greater roles with injuries littered across the roster.
WR KRISTIAN WILKERSON
The undrafted rookie wide receiver hasn’t officially been elevated from the practice squad, but he did make the trip to New York.
The Patriots have just three healthy receivers on their 53-man roster in Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd and Gunner Olszewski. If Wilkerson is elevated, he’d be the No. 4 option at wide receiver.
The 6-foot-1, 214-pound wideout, who has yet to make his NFL debut, has elite agility and quickness for his frame.
The FBS-product was extremely productive over his four-year career at Southeast Missouri State. Wilkerson has earned practice player of the week honors with the Patriots, who had competition from several other teams when they signed him to their practice squad in September.
DT CARL DAVIS
The Patriots signed Davis off of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad Oct. 14. He missed several practices with a concussion but made the trip to New York.
Davis will share the defensive tackle role with Adam Butler, Byron Cowart and Nick Thurman. At 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, Davis is the Patriots’ biggest player on the defensive line.
The 28-year-old was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Iowa. He’s also spent time with the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.
He has 32 career tackles in 36 games with 12 starts.
LB JOSH UCHE
Uche made his NFL debut last week, playing 12 snaps while registering a quarterback hit and tackle.
He’s set to play a much bigger role this week with Bentley out. Either Uche or fellow rookie Anfernee Jennings will start in Bentley’s place. The only other off-ball linebackers on the entire team are rookie special-teamer Cassh Maluia and practice-squad options Michael Pinckney, a rookie, and Terez Hall.
Uche is the Patriots’ most athletic linebacker. He was part of New England’s game plan as a situational pass rusher in Week 8 but took over for Bentley when the starting inside linebacker left the game and didn’t return with a groin injury.
The second-round pick could wind up starting his second career NFL game.