While the New England Patriots‘ opponent on Thursday, the New York Giants, are dealing with a slew of injuries on offense, the Patriots will also be without two key contributors on the offensive side of the ball.
On Wednesday, the team announced receiver Phillip Dorsett would be out on Thursday as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury. That was followed a day later by news that Rex Burkhead would be missing a second-straight game as he continues to deal with a foot injury, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Other inactives for New England include Cody Kessler, JoeJuan Williams, Byron Cowart, Damien Harris, and Korey Cunningham.
Williams, who dressed at Washington in place of an injured Patrick Chung, is back on the bench tonight. Chung is active this week after a minor injury kept him out of action last week.
But with Burkhead out again, it’s a surprise to see Damien Harris not dressed for the Thursday game. Harris worked well as a pass catcher during the preseason and showed a side of explosiveness as a rusher. But he hasn’t gotten his chance to suit up and play meaningful snaps in the regular season.
The other scratches don’t come as much of a surprise with surpluses and full health at this positions.
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Replacing Burkhead Will Be a Challenge
While the Patriots have been productive and have shown depth in the past, losing two key guys will still have a major impact on the offense. For starters, Burkhead’s versatility could help New England in short-yardage situations against a talented, yet banged-up linebacker unit for the Giants.
Without Burkhead available to wreak havoc, the Patriots could turn to James White a lot more in the receiving game. They may also use Sony Michel in passing plays much like they did against Washington on Sunday. White caught three passes, a career-high for a player who reeled in just seven catches a year ago.
Another potential solution could be for the Patriots to use tight ends Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo more on crossing routes over the middle and Brandon Bolden down the sidelines. Those two routes are Burkhead’s most common. Bolden and Izzo capitalized on their increased routes in Washington, each securing a touchdown reception.
What About Dorsett?
The Patriots leading deep threat is sidelined after sustaining a hamstring injury against the Redskins. It’s a recurring injury for the receiver who suffered a pair of similar ailments during his time with the Colts.
Now, the Patriots will have to find some other options over the middle in the receiving game. LaCosse and Izzo are two options, but Jakobi Meyers is a solid backup as well. Meyers has played in all five previous contests making just four catches.
With Meyers’ length and range with his hands, New England could throw a different dimension of passing at the Giants.