FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots may have won the game, but they took losses at key positions across the field.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola (concussion), cornerback Aqib Talib (hip), linebacker Jerod Mayo (shoulder), and right guard Dan Connolly (head) all didn’t finish Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
Amendola took a vicious hit from Saints safety Rafael Bush that appeared to be a helmet-to-helmet collision in the third quarter. Mayo injured his shoulder while tackling Saints running back Darren Sproles in the fourth quarter.
It was undetermined which plays Talib and Connolly were injured on.
Unlike the team’s defensive line, where they had to call up Marcus Forston from the practice squad because Tommy Kelly (knee) was unable to go, the Patriots are relatively deep at each of the affected positions. They’ve already managed to go three games without Amendola at wide receiver and they have seven other linebackers on the team’s roster and four other cornerbacks. Connolly, who was in competition with Marcus Cannon in the preseason for the starter’s position, was easily replaced. The numbers are in the Patriots’ favor.
Instead, their losses from the field — for however long — will be problematic because of the individual talent at each position. Talib is proving to be a shutdown corner (on Jimmy Graham Sunday, he held the tight end to no receptions on six targets with two passes defensed). Mayo leads the team in tackles. Amendola can be a game-changing receiver. Connolly allows the team to have versatility in the run game. Each has a huge presence.
The Patriots will have to supplement their dynamic play with unseasoned players, including Cannon, rookie linebacker Jamie Collins, and rookie cornerback Logan Ryan in addition to the team’s young group of receivers.
Some have already made an impact. Austin Collie, signed just 10 days ago, caught two passes for 24 yards, all on the Patriots’ winning drive. And Collins, in for Mayo late, recorded two tackles and a fumble recovery.