Patriots Hard-Hitting Safety Doesn’t Return After Knee Injury

New England Patriots

Getty New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have one of the most talented up-and-coming safeties in the NFL but it looks like he may miss some time due to an injury.

While the Patriots were able to get their first win of the season, they did so without Kyle Dugger. The safety didn’t return to the game after suffering a knee injury in the second quarter of the Steelers game.

Against Pittsburgh, Dugger’s main responsibility was locking down tight end Pat Freiermuth. In the first half, he registered a single tackle per Pro Football Reference.  Freiermuth finished the game with only four catches for 22 yards and a touchdown with the touchdown coming in the fourth quarter.

This was quite a drop off from Week 1 where the tight end tallied five receptions for 75 yards. It’s safe to say that Dugger did his job. The safety has registered five tackles on the season.

With Dugger out, Jabril Peppers stepped into Dugger’s place. Peppers has two tackles this season per Pro Football Reference.

How Many Healthy Safeties Does New England Have?

New England hasn’t had great luck at the safety position. With the likes of Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, and Dugger, the Patriots looked like they would have plenty of depth and talent at the position.

But Phillips entered Week 2 with a rib injury and Joshua Bledsoe ended up missing the game due to a groin injury. Even though Phillips was limited all week due to his injury, he ended up getting 51 snaps on Sunday which was 86 percent of defensive snaps against the Steelers.

If the Patriots were to lose Dugger for an extended period it would be quite a blow. The safety is a playmaker whether it be playing close to the line of scrimmage and attacking the ball carrier or sitting back or making a play in the passing game.

Phillips, McCourty, and Peppers can take his spot but Dugger has been impressive so far in his career. Dugger has played in 31 games over three seasons and has 163 tackles and four interceptions.

What Are the Patriots Focusing on Defensively?

New England has one goal in mind when it steps out onto the field. They want to limit the output of the opposing offense and ensure that they have to work hard to earn any points or yardage.

“That is hard in this league, you can ask the guys on offense for us. There are going to be games that we cannot allow that, we are going to have to make plays, because you are going to play some of these offenses who can consistently drive down the field and put points on the board,” McCourty said, per a team provided transcript. “That is what it is in this league. Do not give it up in one play, make a team play after play, make something happen. Then it is important to try to play good defense in the right area. I think we all will hate the touchdown we gave up in the red area. Sometimes they are going to make a good play; a good throw or catch but we have to make it tough. I thought we did a good job of that today throughout the game consistently.”

If Dugger is forced to miss an extended amount of time due to his knee injury, it will be a lot harder to do that.

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