The New England Patriots are hurting, literally, at cornerback right now.
It's not a good situation because cornerback is a premium position in today's NFL. It's also a problem for the Patriots because their schedule includes many teams with top-tier wide receivers, and they'll match up against many of them in the coming weeks.
- Week 5 vs. Saints: Chris Olave
- Week 6 at Raiders: Davante Adams
- Week 7 vs. Bills: Stefon Diggs
- Week 8 at Dolphins: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
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Here's is a list of the healthy and injured cornerbacks.
- Myles Bryant
- Shaun Wade
- Ameer Speed
Bryant struggled covering Cowboys star wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in Week 4. He could draw the assignment of covering Olave in Week 5. Wade was a 2021 fifth-round pick and probably wouldn't be getting a ton of defensive snaps if the Patriots didn't have so many cornerback injuries.
Given the less-than-ideal depth the Patriots have at corner right now, we could see safety Jalen Mills, who has played plenty of cornerback in his career, get more snaps at that position in the near term.
- J.C. Jackson
- Christian Gonzalez
- Jonathan Jones
- Jack Jones
- Marcus Jones
Injuries have ravaged the Patriots secondary in the last few weeks.
Jonathan Jones played Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles but has missed the last three games with an ankle injury. Jack Jones is now eligible to come off injured reserve after not playing yet this season. However, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Sunday that "some around the team were targeting midseason as a more likely timetable" for Jones' return. Marcus Jones is on IR after suffering a torn labrum in a Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The latest blow to the roster was the report Wednesday from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that standout rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez has a torn labrum from a dislocated shoulder and is "likely" to miss the rest of the season. Gonzalez had actually been one of the league's top 10 cornerbacks through three games. He was injured in the first half of last week's 38-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
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In response to the Gonzalez news, the Patriots reportedly traded for Los Angeles Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson. Jackson began his career with the Pats in 2018 and eventually became a Pro Bowl-caliber player who signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Chargers as a free agent in 2022.
Jackson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 7 of last season. After struggling in the first two games of this season, the Chargers made him a healthy scratch for Week 3. He didn't play in Week 4, either.
It's unknown when Jackson will suit up for the Patriots because he is not fully healthy right now.
“That’s exactly what it is, I’m not 100 percent,” Jackson told reporters last week, via NFL.com. “I know that the doctors know that. I’m not 100 percent so I’m doing my best. We’re giving the team what they want. I’m doing my best and I don’t know what they expect me to do.”
The Patriots defense was supposed to be the strength of the team this season, but with all of these injuries in the secondary and star edge rusher Matthew Judon's biceps injury, New England could struggle to keep opponents out of the end zone the rest of the campaign unless some of these guys return to health and play at a high level.