Patriots hit with multiple injuries during chippy joint practice with Packers
In the NFL, joint practices often carry an added level of intensity and physicality. With that can come an increased rate of injuries – which seemed to be the case for the Patriots on Thursday.
On Thursday, the Patriots held their second of two joint practices with the Green Bay Packers. The session was physical and at times chippy, with multiple skirmishes of varying degrees breaking out throughout the day.
In addition to those ‘fights,’ the Patriots also had three players suffer injuries over the course of practice. Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton left early on, and rookie center Jake Andrews and rookie defensive end Keion White got banged up late.
Thornton’s injury put an early end to what was looking like his best practice of camp. On the play he got hurt, he actually was diving for a 50-yard deep ball from Mac Jones, which he caught. However, he got up slowly after the play and the Patriots training staff then checked on the shoulder he landed on. He then left the field with the training staff, and did not return.
Andrews got rolled up on midway through practice. He also left the practice field and did not return.
As for White, something happened during an 11-on-11 drill that had him staying down a bit longer than usual. He was able to walk off the field under his own power but favoring his right leg. Unlike Thornton and Andrews, he was able to stay with the team on the sideline, but didn’t come back onto the field for the final 15 minutes of practice. He had his right ankle taped up as well.
This is the second time this week the Patriots have had an injury or injuries be a major storyline coming out of practice. During the team’s final practice in Foxborough on Monday, Mike Gesicki left early with a shoulder injury.
Why Ezekiel Elliott is the right back for the Patriots right now
On Monday afternoon, the New England Patriots made the signing many fans had been waiting for. Adding some much-needed established running back talent, they signed former Dallas Cowboys All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott to a one-year deal worth up to $6 million.
Elliott’s signing comes after anticipation had been building around him joining the Patriots. He had an official free agent visit with the team in late July. While the Patriots hosted a number of high-profile free agent visits this summer, none had turned into signings until Elliott.
This time though, the Patriots got their guy. And for where the team is at right now, Elliott was the right guy for the job. For the most part, Patriots fans seem to have understood this, as the reaction to the signing has been largely (but not entirely) positive.
What makes Elliott the right option for the Patriots? And how did they get to the point where a 28-year-old running back who was released by his team in March and went un-signed for four months is an answer? Let’s go through it, step-by-step.
Why do the Patriots need another running back?
Let’s start with the basics. Why was running back a position of need for the Patriots, with Rhamondre Stevenson coming off a career-year at just 25 years old?
Because Stevenson’s 2022 season isn’t sustainable. That’s not an indictment on his talent, but there’s a reason that hardly any NFL teams use true workhorse running backs anymore – and those that do often fall off late in the season. The game is simply too physical at this point to ask one player to carry the ball that much.
In 2022, Stevenson was given 279 touches (catches plus carries), which ranked 10th in the NFL. Like many of the players ranked above him, Stevenson’s production fell off late in the year. At one point, he acknowledged that the workload was getting to him physically. It was also reported over the offseason the Patriots believed they needed to better manage Stevenson’s reps, which has been apparent in training camp in his limited involvement in team drills.
Simply put, with Stevenson there should be a better job to find a balance between quality and quantity. Yes, he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. But if he takes too much of a beating early in the season, that ability becomes lesser late in the year. Even lessening his workload by four or five touches per game could make a difference and see him make more of an impact during a playoff push in December and January.
We’ve established some of Stevenson’s touches needed to go elsewhere. That brings us to our second point…