When one door closes, another opens for the New England Patriots. Rookie wide receiver Gunner Olszewski was placed on injured reserve earlier Tuesday afternoon, opening up a roster spot for New England.
That spot is set to be taken by second-year left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who is finally back healthy after a bout with turf toe that sidelined the former first-round pick since Week 2. The Patriots made that move official just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
In Wynn’s absence, the Patriots have been unable to mount a strong rushing attack like they did late last season in the midst of a Super Bowl run. While Wynn was expected to steady an offensive line that lost one of the league’s top left tackles, he suffered a torn Achilles before his latest set back forced him to miss 10 more games.
Although many see Wynn as undersized for his position, he is advanced in many aspects of a typical professional offensive line, especially his footwork. In regards to both his pass and run protection, Wynn can help ease the pressure on the left side of the line while also allowing New England’s running backs to generate positive yardage
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Is Wynn’s Absence
The Patriots have been using veteran tackle Marshall Newhouse as a replacement for Isaiah Wynn over the past ten games. The results have not been typical of a New England offensive line. Newhouse has allowed seven sacks, nine pressures, 13 QB hits, and has been flagged three times for holding.
New England also has the fourth-most negative rushing plays to the left side in the entire NFL with 13 and is tied for the seventh-fewest 10-plus-yard running plays with seven.
Adding Wynn to that mix could easily benefit both Tom Brady in the passing mix and the running back unit as well. Brady has been knocked down quite a few times, including taking three QB hits from Newhouse on Sunday. The Patriots have made protecting Brady a priority over recent years and Wynn’s integration back into the offensive line will make that possible.
As for the running backs, the Patriots are 24th in the NFL currently averaging 91 rushing yards per game on just 3.3 yards per carry. Given Wynn and running back Sony Michel have chemistry together going back to their college days at Georgia, the two could build off each other to create a positive impact.
Too Injury Prone
The growing concern about Wynn is that he is not only too short to play left tackle in the NFL, but that he is consistently injured. Wynn has played in just one full game as an NFL lineman and may need to shake this moniker as well.
Another young option at the position, rookie Yodny Cajuste, has spent the entire season thus far on the reserve/non-football injury list after offseason quad surgery kept the co-Big 12 Lineman of the Year recipient out of commission.
If Wynn and Cajuste are to be the Patriots future offensive tackles, the two will need to prove they can overcome injuries and stay healthy in a league that truly depends on the strength of an offensive line.