NEW ORLEANS — Overall, the New England Patriots’ visit to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday was a smashing success. They made tremendous strides on both sides of the ball as they blew out the New Orleans Saints.
The 36-20 victory did present some cause for concern, however.
The Patriots, who already were playing without several key contributors, lost four more players to injury on Sunday.
Running back Rex Burkhead left the game with a rib injury. Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett tweaked his knee. Cornerback Eric Rowe was sidelined by a groin injury. Ditto for Rob Gronkowski, who tormented the Saints with six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown before exiting late in the third quarter.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan appeared hobbled at times, as well, and was seen icing his knee on the sideline. But unlike his four aforementioned teammates, he was able to complete the game.
Gronkowski’s injury was particularly concerning, as the Patriots are expected to rely heavily on him this season with wideout Julian Edelman lost for the year with a torn ACL.
Fortunately for the Patriots, these injuries do not appear to be particularly serious. Hogan, Rowe and Gronkowski all downplayed their severity their respective ailments after the game, and all five watched the game’s final plays from the sideline, with Burkhead and Rowe returning there after brief trips to the trainer’s room.
Even still, it was a continuation of a startling trend for the Patriots, who now have had six players knocked out of games due to injury over their first two regular-season games.
Five members of their 53-man roster (Danny Amendola, Dont’a Hightower, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner and Vincent Valentine) were not healthy enough to play in Sunday’s game, and the team already has lost Edelman, Cyrus Jones, Malcolm Mitchell and Shea McClellin to injured reserve.
Get this: Brandin Cooks is quite literally the only New England receiver who is not currently nursing some type of injury.
The Patriots are talented, deep and well-coached enough to survive setbacks that would cripple lesser teams. But even they can only withstand so much attrition. They need to get healthy.
Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images