At 5-1, the New England Patriots are one of the best teams in the AFC but could injuries derail the Patriots mid to late season run?
**UPDATE** As of 9:45 AM Eastern, the Patriots have officially placed Jerod Mayo on season-ending in jured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. With the move the Patriots resigned Andre Neblett. The Patriots are now officially without both of their defensive captains, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo.
Through six weeks of the NFL season the New England Patriots find themselves at 5-1 and in first place in the AFC East. They are coming off a come from behind win over the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints that has football fans and media members alike talking about the Patriots.
Following the win, the good mojo swept across New England thanks in part to a come from behind win from the Red Sox that almost overshadowed the Patriots. Tom Brady led yet another 4th quarter comeback and the defense help Jimmy Graham without a catch for the entire game. With all of this, Patriots fans may have overlooked a string of potentially season-changing injuries that occurred both in the Saints game and in the weeks before it.
In the game on Sunday the Patriots lost Jerod Mayo, Aqib Talib, Joe Vellano and Danny Amendola to injury. These injuries pile on top of Vince Wilfork being placed on season-ending injured reserve following the Atlanta game, Tommy Kelly injuring his knee in the Cincinnati game and missing the Saints game and Shane Vereen being placed on injured reserve with designation to return following the season-opening win in Buffalo. All of these injuries compound the Rob Gronkowski injury saga and injuries that people tend to overlook; Adrian Wilson and promising rookie defensive lineman Cory Grissom being placed on injured reserve before the season started.
The huge list of players continues to grow each week for every team, but the Patriots' injuries are coming in key spots that a young team usually cannot afford. The big injury to look will be Jerod Mayo, who was reported to be leaving the stadium in a sling following a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game. Mayo is a defensive captain and is known for being the man who calls the defensive plays in the huddle and lines up the defense. If he misses an extended period of time, the Patriots will be left without both of their defensive captains which could seriously hinder a defense that currently is 4th in the NFL in scoring defense. The one possible silver lining for the Patriots defense is that former defensive captain Devin McCourty is still on the field and healthy. If Mayo is forced to miss an extended period of time, McCourty could step in to lead the defense.
As big as the Mayo injury could be, the Aqib Talib injury could be the biggest season-altering injury if at all serious. Talib suffered a hip injury late in Sunday's game. This following his stellar performance of "shadowing" Jimmy Graham (with the help of Devin McCourty) and holding him to no catches. The hip injury brings back memories of the 2012-2013 AFC Championship game where Talib left with a hip injury and then Anquan Blodin took over the game.
To this point in the season, the argument can be made that Talib is the most indispensable player on the Patriots, even ahead of Tom Brady in the eyes of some. He has shut down the opposition's best receiver each week and has brought a confidence to the team that has allowed the defense to run more and different schemes than we have seen in recent years. Talib has also received praise from his teammates for being a leader on the young defense both on and off the field.
Although the severity of the recent injuries are not yet known (first practice report will be out on Wednesday) it will be something that the Patriots and fans will have to keep an eye on. Although the team is in a "down point" in their schedule, no game is a guarantee, especially not divisional games like the Patriots have against the Jets and Dolphins.