Patriots Elevate Dynamic WR After Latest COVID-19 Issues

Getty Isaiah Zuber

The New England Patriots were forced to make several roster moves on Saturday after their latest battle with COVID-19.

After placing running back Sony Michel (tested positive), guard Shaq Mason (did not test positive), and Derek Rivers (did not test positive) on the COVID-19 reserve list, the Patriots elevated speedy receiver, Isaiah Zuber, converted linebacker Rashod Berry, defensive lineman Nick Thurman and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch to the 53-man roster.

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The Patriots placed Sony Michel, Derek Rivers and Shaq Mason on the COVID-19 reserve list. Mason nor Rivers will play on Sunday, and Michel was already on IR. ESPN's Mike Reiss wrote: The New England Patriots have placed starting right guard Shaq Mason, reserve defensive end Derek Rivers and running back Sony Michel on the reserve/COVID-19 list, a source tells ESPN's Field Yates. Those placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list either have tested positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact to someone who tested positive. On Friday, the Patriots canceled practice after a positive COVID-19 test. Later that day, the club placed center James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Patriots host the Denver Broncos on Sunday (CBS, 1 p.m. ET), and Ferentz, Mason and Rivers will not play in the game. Michel wouldn't have played anyway as he is on injured reserve. Starting defensive tackle Byron Cowart is also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and will not play in the game. #Patriots #NewEnglandPatriots #CamNewton #StephonGilmore #DevinMcCourty #JasonMcCourty #JoshMcDaniels #JCJackson #LawrenceGuy #ChaseWinovich #JoshUche #KyleDugger #JoeThuney #JamesWhite #DamienHarris #JarrettStidham #AdamButler #JJTaylor #DevinAsiasi #DaltonKeene #JulianEdelman #NKealHarry #GunnerOlszewski #DavidAndrews #BillBelichick #RobertKraft #AFCEast #AFC #NFL

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The Word on Isaiah Zuber

The Patriots don’t have a ton of playmakers at skill positions, so Zuber is an especially interesting player for the roster. He’s been elevated twice before this season, but because some of those call-ups have been due to COVID-19 issues, he still has one more available before he has to be signed to the 53-man roster for the rest of the season.

So far this season, the Patriots have only used him to run a jet sweep and a reverse. I’d love to see if he can make something happen in the passing game considering he might be the best run-after-the-catch guy on the team.


The Word on Caleb Benenoch

The 26-year-old O-lineman has bounced around to a few teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, and Carolina Panthers. Despite solid athleticism, he hasn’t been able to find his niche.

This could be his last chance to make a splash, but truthfully, he’s probably only on the Patriots’ roster now to add some emergency depth considering how mangled the unit is with injuries and COVID-19 situations (Mason and James Ferentz).


The Word on Rashod Berry

Berry is a rookie TE/LB who has seemingly been converted to defense full time since the Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent this spring. If you’re wondering if Berry is loose heading into what might be his first NFL action, take a look at this tweet from early on Saturday afternoon.

I think he’s feeling good.


The Word on Nick Thurman

If not Zuber, Thurman is the player who likely has the best chance to make an actual impact on Sunday and for the rest of this season. The 25-year-old was a part of the team’s practice squad last year, and he’s already seen some in-game action this season.

He has one tackle so far this season and is obviously going to be looking to add to that total. He’d likely be thrilled if he could secure some of the snaps Rivers was getting before he was designated for the COVID-19 reserve list. Thurman is a different kind of edge defender. He’s 6’4″ 305 pounds and capable of holding his ground against the run, but he’s not nearly as proficient as a pass rusher as Rivers.

Nonetheless, perhaps he can make an impact on Sunday.


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