Coming off an 8-9 season in 2022, the New England Patriots look to stay competitive in a tough AFC East. Injuries certainly affected how effective the Patriots were at times last season, but did not derail what could have been a deep playoff run otherwise.
Both sides of the ball took their share of lumps when it came to injury but looking from the outside in, coaching appeared to be the biggest issue in 2022. The failed experiment of Matt Patricia and Joe Judge running the offense appeared to hinder the performance of the team more than anything.
Bringing back Bill O’Brien should help improve the quality of play which in turn should keep the Patriots in the thick of the AFC playoff race in 2023. Below are the injury issues for the Patriots heading into the season.
Notable 2022 Injuries- Returning Players
QB Mac Jones (Left High-Ankle Sprain)
Jones missed three games due to his left high-ankle sprain suffered at the end of Week 3 when Calais Campbell tackled him in the pocket. There were discussions about whether the injury required surgery but ultimately they let the injury heal naturally. This ankle injury significantly reduced his ability to scramble and step into throws at the time.
This was an injury that was more problematic at the time but should not have any lingering issues heading into 2023. Hopefully, with a steady offensive line and an improved offensive scheme from Bill O’Brien, Jones can avoid injuries like this.
WR DeVante Parker (Right Knee/Concussion)
Parker battled through an MCL sprain originally suffered in Week 8 against the New York Jets. This unfortunately happened during the first play of the game, forcing him out of the rest of the game and the next, using the bye week to heal further. He lingered on the injury report even after the bye, indicating he wasn’t fully healthy.
When he did return, Parker suffered a concussion in Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals as seen below. He missed the following three games, further showing that each concussion is unique and has its own timeline.
Both injuries are unfortunately common and did not appear to concern the Patriots as they signed him to a three-year extension. Parker has suffered and played through multiple injuries throughout his career but has still produced when called upon. I expect more of the same from him in 2023.
G Chasen Hines (Undisclosed)
Hines started the season on the NFI list prior to training camp and spent a portion of training camp there before passing a physical. He did not appear in a game all season and was placed on injured reserve in late October, ending his season. The nature of his injury is unknown but he battled knee injuries throughout his time at LSU, suggesting these may have followed him to the NFL.
G Michael Onwenu (Ankle surgery)
Onwenu begins the 2023 season on the PUP list due to to off-season ankle surgery that prevented him from participating during spring workouts.
Considering he suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the last game of the season, this explains why the injury wasn’t as widely reported on.
WR Tyquan Thornton (Clavicle/Knee)
Thornton broke his clavicle against the Carolina Panthers in the preseason, forcing him to undergo surgery to repair the fracture and onto IR. He missed the first four games of the season before returning in Week 5. He should not have any long-term concerns heading into this season.
Thornton also dealt with a late-season knee injury suffered in practice that left him questionable for Week 16 and 17 but did not force him to miss any time.
DT Christian Barmore (Right Knee)
Barmore dealt with a knee injury all year, missing a total of seven games, four of them spent on injured reserve. He originally appeared on the injury report that Friday prior to Week 6 with the team later describing his issue as “knee inflammation”. He further injured the knee against Cleveland It was later reported that he did not require surgery, just rest and rehab.
He, unfortunately, battled knee injuries at the end of the 2021 season heading into the playoffs, but it’s unclear whether these were related. Barmore is a force when healthy, but knee issues have followed him from Alabama to the NFL. He will be one player to watch if knee issues continue to persist on the injury report.
LB Raekwon McMillan (Achilles)
McMillan is set to miss the 2023 season due to a partially torn Achilles suffered in late May while participating in OTAs. He underwent surgery shortly after the injury and unless he had some type of miraculous recovery along with an injury settlement, he won’t be back on the field until 2024.
CB Jalen Mills (Hamstring/Groin)
Mills battled soft-tissue injuries all season starting with a hamstring strain, originally appearing on the injury report the Thursday before Week 3. He attempted to play through the injury initially before sitting out Week 4. He stayed on the injury report for several weeks as he recovered.
Mills later suffered a groin strain against the Minnesota Vikings and missed the remaining six games of the season. It’s not clear whether this was a core muscle injury that required surgery following the season. However, the Patriots did release him and then re-sign him in March, suggesting that he was able to pass a physical.
Mills has battled injuries throughout his career though has still been productive when on the field. I would expect that he continues to work through more injuries in 2023, but the Patriots should secure multiple depth options in the event Mills is out.
CB Cody Davis (Knee)
Davis suffered a non-contact knee injury in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, forcing him to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season. He was limited in OTAs as of last month, further complicating what his original injury was. It remains to be seen what his 2023 season will look like and his level of participation.
DT Lawrence Guy (Shoulder)
Guy worked through a left shoulder injury sustained in Week 4 midway through the third quarter. At the time, the video did not precisely identify what he did to his shoulder, but the injury was significant enough that he missed the following three games and was questionable for a fourth week.
CB Jack Jones (Knee)
Jones exited the Week 14 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with what he described as a bruise as noted below.
While he may have had a bruise, this appeared to be more of a bone bruise which would have explained the extended timeline. He should be fully healthy coming into the season with proper rehab, but this was an unfortunate injury to cost him the last portion of the season.
Regrettably, his legal situation may be more of an issue this upcoming season than any injury he’s dealt with.
LB Josh Uche (Hamstring)
Uche originally suffered a hamstring strain in practice prior to Week 6, knocking him out of the following two games. He was questionable for the next three games but did not see more than 40 percent of snaps as he slowly healed. In Week 9, he did rack up three sacks indicating that he appeared on the mend. Despite the injury, he still was able to collect 11.5 sacks.
There is a 30 percent chance he could suffer another hamstring again this season, but even if he does, it will only slow him down temporarily, not entirely stop him.
S Kyle Dugger (Right Knee/Ankle)
Dugger missed two games total between the two injuries with the knee injury coming in Week 2 and the ankle injury in Week 7. The knee injury at the time either appeared to be a bone bruise from landing directly on the right leg or a quad strain trying to suddenly stop.
As for his ankle injury, this was a left-sided issue that was the result of getting his legs taken out from under him near the sidelines. Though he only missed two games total, he spent the majority of the time on the injury report as is common for most Patriots players with injuries.
There don’t appear to be any major issues moving forward in 2023, but losing Dugger in the secondary would be a massive blow for the defense.
2023 Draft Picks
A huge shoutout to Bernd Buchmasser of Patriots Pulpit and Dane Brugler of The Athletic for curating this information.
CB Christian Gonzalez
Absolutely no injury concerns for Gonzalez from his collegiate career at Oregon.
DE Keion White
Suffered a dislocated ankle in 2021 playing pickup basketball, missing the first eight games of the season as he recovered. He also suffered a hamstring strain while performing at Georgia Tech’s Pro Day back in March.
He has been cleared medically from the dislocated ankle and played the 2022 season indicating that this was a one-off issue. The hamstring is notable but hopefully will not reoccur during training camp.
LB/S Marte Mapu
Mapu has had his share of injuries dating back to 2018 when he missed five games due to an undisclosed injury. He was healthy for several seasons before participating in the Senior Bowl, missing the second half of the week because of a groin/quad injury. Unfortunately, while training for the pre-draft process in February, he suffered a right pectoral tear which required surgery.
Neither of these injuries should limit him once training camp begins, but Mapu will be one to watch for any durability concerns as he adjusts to the next level.
C Jake Andrews
No injury concerns for Andrews during his time at Troy.
K Chad Ryland
No notable injury concerns for Ryland.
G Sidy Sow
No injury concerns for Sow who started 55 games during his career at Eastern Michigan.
G Atonio Mafi
Suffered an Achilles tear during his senior year of high school that prematurely ended his season. Was durable during his time at UCLA and only suffered an injury during his Pro Day, dealing with a calf strain.
WR Kayshon Boutte
Boutte suffered a right ankle fracture in 2021 that forced him to miss the final seven games of the season. He also required a second surgery to address some issues from the initial repair.
He did miss several OTA practices after he was drafted for undisclosed reasons, but his prior injuries should not impact his ability to perform at the next level.
P Bryce Baringer
No injury concerns for the punter.
WR Demario Douglas
Not much information on Douglas other than an ankle injury in 2021 that forced him out of the second half of the game against Middle Tennessee.
CB Ameer Speed
Dealt with an ankle injury in 2021 while with Georgia that forced him to miss two games in the middle of the season.
CB Isaiah Bolden
Missed nearly the entire 2018 season while at Florida State after suffering a shoulder injury that required surgery. This injury limited him to one game.
Notable Injury Concerns Free Agency/Trades/UDFA
TE Anthony Firkser
Missed two games in 2021 due to a knee injury. No other notable injury concerns for the veteran tight end.
QB Malik Cunningham
Missed two games due to a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder last season.
TE Johnny Lumpkin
Missed the 2019 season with Louisana due to a separated shoulder in the preseason that required surgery.
QB Trace McSorley
Suffered a left knee sprain with the Baltimore Ravens in 2020 that was stated as minor but still sent him to injured reserve, forcing him out of the last five games of the season, including playoffs.
LB Chris Board
Suffered two concussions in 2019, a preseason one and a late-season concussion that forced him to miss one regular season game. He also worked through a knee injury in 2022 with the Lions, not missing any games.
TE Mike Gesicki
Other than a right shoulder injury that was a possible dislocation in 2020 that forced him to miss one game, Geiscki has been pretty durable during his time in the NFL. This is partly due to his lack of usage during his time in Miami.
OT Riley Reiff
Reiff has been fairly durable throughout his career, missing a game or two every season. He did suffer a foot injury in 2018 with the Minnesota Vikings that lingered through much of the season and forced him to miss three games.
Reiff also dealt with an ankle injury during Week 12 of the 2021 season that was re-aggravated in Week 14, sending him to injured reserve. He missed a total of nine games due to the injury which included the Bengals’ run to the Super Bowl.
WR Juju Smith-Schuster
Smith-Schuster has an extensive injury history that includes four concussions, a shoulder injury that cost him 12 games in 2021, and several sprains and strains throughout his career.
He has been working through a knee issue this off-season from the playoffs but claims that he will be ready to go by training camp. The exact specifics are unknown, but if he begins to struggle with the injury, this could be the smoking gun.
OT Calvin Anderson
There wasn’t any particular injury that sank the Patriots last year which is a good thing. The top-end talent is no longer there at key positions and the roster still appears in transition.
The Patriots have the ability to win between 8-10 games this season, flirting with the playoffs. Everyone knows at this point Belichick is hanging around to beat Don Shula’s win record, currently, 19 wins away. Another two average seasons and he will get the mark, barring any major collapses.
The key for Belichick to get his record and the team’s success is to avoid injuries at the key positions. There’s not one particular group or player that will make a difference, other than the offense improving from whatever that was last season. The Patriots should improve dramatically on the offensive side of the ball and need to take advantage of it when other teams are battling injury issues or are stuck in a rut.
2023 can be successful for the New England Patriots, but it won’t be an easy go of it while they are in the AFC East.
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