New England Patriots

Aug 22, 2019; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots linebacker Brandon King is carted off the field after suffering an apparent injury during the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots suffered numerous injuries in Thursday’s preseason win over the Panthers, and at least one of them was reportedly a major one. According to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, core special teamer Brandon King suffered a torn quadriceps and is likely done for the season.

King was injured during a punt return in the second quarter. Teammates, and even former teammate Chris Hogan, surrounded the highly respected King as he got carted off the field.

The Patriots’ special teams units will have to replace one of their cornerstone players. King played the third-most special teams snaps on the team (281) behind only Nate Ebner (329) and Matthew Slater (303) in the 2018 regular season and played 21 ST snaps in Super Bowl LIII.

King was a virtual lock to make the Patriots roster because of his trusted special teams excellence. His likely absence opens a spot for a linebacker or safety who may have otherwise been closer to the roster bubble.

Elandon Roberts, who was appearing to have a tough time finding snaps in a crowded linebacker group on defense, could simply stick around with an increased role. Roberts was on the starting kickoff unit on Thursday. King’s injury could also mean increased opportunity for LB Calvin Munson or S Obi Melifonwu to make the Final 53.

The Patriots’ coverage units improved after a subpar first half last year when they released DE Geneo Grissom and added LBs Albert McLellan and Ramon Humber. Their groupings were already going to look different with newcomer Terrence Brooks in the fold and rookie DE Chase Winovich running with the starters.

Replacing King for a full season is a bigger challenge than any encountered for these units in the past year.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.