Patriots LB Goes Down With Potential ‘Serious Lower-Body Injury’: Report

Getty Jahlani Tavai

The New England Patriots may have lost a valuable contributor on their special teams unit and a depth option at linebacker on Thursday.

Per a tweet from NBC Sports’ Phil A. Perry, LB Jahlani Tavai went down with a potential “serious lower-body injury.” writer Evan Lazar surmised the injury appeared to be to Tavai’s leg or foot.

There was no official word on the severity of Tavai’s injury, but being taken to the blue tent is usually cause for some concern. Ourlads has Tavai listed as the Patriots’ third-string middle linebacker behind Ja’Whuan Bentley and Cameron McGrone.

However, Tavai’s presence on special teams is likely to be missed most if the injury turns out to be serious.

The 25-year-old played in 13 games for the Patriots in 2021. Most of the snaps he played (77.6%) came on special teams. Tavai made a total of 14 tackles, and he recovered a fumble for the Patriots last season. An update on Tavai’s condition could come as soon as Friday morning.

The Ripple Effect of Tavai’s Injury

The Patriots just signed QB-turned-LB Nate Wieland earlier in the week. The most realistic path for Wieland, a dynamic athlete, to make the Patriots’ roster was as a special teamer. If Tavai is down for an extended period, it would seemingly improve Wieland’s chances of making the 53-man roster. At the very least, his opportunity to stick on the practice squad should see a bump.

Across the Patriots’ entire linebacker group, there is an infusion of youth and speed that wasn’t present on the 2021 roster. Tavai wasn’t a part of the new movement as he’s more of a thickly built linebacker in the vein of old-school Patriots backers like Dont’a Hightower.

Still, his ability to contribute in special teams and to play in spots from scrimmage was valuable. The other linebackers currently on the Patriots’ roster are:

  • Matthew Judon – (locked in as a starter at the WLB)
  • Josh Uche – (hopes are high for him to have a breakout season)
  • Ronnie Perkins – (potential pass-rush specialist heading into his second year after essentially redshirting his rookie season)
  • Anfernee Jennings – The former Alabama LB didn’t play in 2021 because of injury, but is hoping to make a mark in 2022
  • DaMarcus Mitchell – (A likely candidate for release)
  • Bentley
  • McGrone – (He’s coming off his own torn ACL that cost him his entire rookie season)
  • Wieland
  • Raekwon McMillan – (Yet another Patriots LB coming off an injury)
  • Mack Wilson Sr. – (Came over in the trade from the Cleveland Browns for Chase Winovich)
  • Harvey Langi – (Another special teams performer who provides depth)

It is difficult to imagine more than 8 players from this group sticking on the 53-man roster.

Patriots Notes and Quotes

  • Anfernee Jennings Tried to Make the Most of an Inactive 2021

Jennings missed all of the 2021 season with a “mystery ailment,” but he told the media on Thursday that he used the time away from the field to “create his own identity.”

In any case, Jennings says he has matured on and off the field since 2021, and he seems ready to make an impact in 2022.

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