1. Danny Amendola was returning a punt against the Rams 2 weeks ago game against the Rams when he injured his right ankle. In the last couple seconds of the video below you can see his right foot get stuck against the turf as the ankle inverts (collapses in) and rotates. This is a classic mechanism for a high ankle sprain. After the game, Mike Giardi reported that Amendola was spotted in a walking boot and on crutches. Danny has a history of ankle issues – in the off-season he underwent surgery to remove bone spurs. At the time, Bleacher Report’s Alec Nathan reported that the surgery was on his left ankle, not the right. The typical recovery time for a moderate high ankle sprain can be up to 4-6 weeks. All reports seem to suggest that Amendola will be out until the playoffs, which does fit into that timeframe. In the meantime, I think that the Patriots can survive a Danny-free offense, but they have to stay healthy. Edelman can’t be out there returning punts. The Patriots picked up WR Griff Whalen last week. He may help to fill the punt return void left by Amendola’s injury (and Cyrus Jones‘ inadequacy). Rookie running back DJ Foster is another possible answer – he was grouped with the receiving unit in practice last week and the Patriots may look to him to help out with punt returns as well.
2. Rob Gronkowski. Yes, we’re counting this injury because I still feel the sting. Rob Gronkowski ruptured a disc in his low back 2 weeks ago while laying out for a pass against the Jets (seen in the video below). He had season-ending surgery a few days later and was placed on IR. This is his third discectomy which leaves looming concerns about his durability going forward. The loss of Gronk is obviously a major one for the Pats. After Monday night’s game against the Ravens it seems like there’s a chance the Pats can get back to the Super Bowl without number 87. Maybe Gronk’s injury helped this team to rally and finally gel. Let’s hope the trend continues.
3. Martellus Bennett is banged up. He had bilateral high ankle sprains early in the season. Two weeks ago against the Jets, Bennett had another high injury to his right ankle as shown on the video below. He is also reportedly dealing with a shoulder injury. Last weekend against the Rams, Bennett was not very productive and seemed to have difficulty creating separation. Against the Ravens this week, Bennett played a more active role in the offense including a beautiful back shoulder catch in the endzone for a TD. It was a great reminder that the Patriots really need to have a healthy Martellus Bennett to make a deep playoff run, especially with Gronk on IR. Bennett has proven himself to be incredibly both mentally and physically tough but I think the Pats need to consider resting him at some point so that the big man can be at his best in the post season.
4. Matthew Slater returned to practice last week after twisting his left foot and ankle defending a punt return against Seattle in week 10. I never saw good footage of the injury so I unfortunately cannot comment on what happened. I did see good footage of him hopping to the sideline and sitting down immediately, clearly in a lot of pain. Slater played against the Ravens and seemed to be moving well. After the game, however, Mike Giardi reported that Slater was once again wearing a boot on his left foot. This could be another setback for Slater or it could be an effort to allow the foot to recover from the game. Having the special teams captain back at 100% would be a great help to the Patriots, especially given their issues on special teams this week. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with his foot as the week progresses.
For more information on how injuries may impact this weekend’s Patriots-Broncos match-up follow me on Twitter @jessdeede