FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots made it official on Thursday, placing linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley on injured reserve, ending their seasons. Both suffered knee injuries in last Sunday’s win at Buffalo.
The short week likely made an outside acquisition difficult, so the Patriots promoted two players from their practice squad. Jonas Gray, a second-year running back from Notre Dame, and offensive lineman Chris Barker were added to the 53-man roster, and both were active for Thursday night’s game against the Jets. Gray took the field for the opening kickoff, and had his first NFL carry on the second offensive drive, gaining 5 yards.
Losing Ridley and Mayo impacted the depth at running back and linebacker, but the Patriots did get Dont’a Hightower back. Hightower had missed the past two games with a knee injury, but was deemed good to go after he took an on-field test for the team’s medical staff. He started, and was wearing the green dot on his helmet, signifying he was the player on defense who could receive signals from the coaching staff through a small speaker.
Another area of concern, and the reason Barker was promoted, was along the offensive line. Injuries to center Bryan Stork and left guard Dan Connolly — both of whom suffered concussions in the past week — and the third straight game missed by Cameron Fleming (finger injury) left the Patriots thin up front, prompting Barker’s promotion.
The Patriots started the game with Nate Solder at left tackle and Sebastian Vollmer at right tackle (those two have started there all seven games). They also had Ryan Wendell at center, Josh Kline at right guard, and Jordan Devey at left guard.
Moving Mayo and Ridley to IR meant the Patriots needed five more players for the seven-member group of inactives, since Fleming and safety Nate Ebner had previously been ruled out.
Rookie running back James White was made inactive for the third straight game and sixth time this season, with Gray getting the nod instead. Cornerback Malcolm Butler — who dressed but didn’t play at Buffalo — and receiver Aaron Dobson also sat, as did Stork and Connolly.
That meant cornerback Brandon Browner was set to make his Patriots debut. Browner sat out the first four games while serving a suspension handed down by the NFL, then missed last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. He started against the Jets, and was whistled for a 5-yard holding penalty in the first quarter.
No extra meaning
Darrelle Revis spent his first six seasons with the Jets, and got his first taste of the New York-New England rivalry from the Patriots’ side on Thursday. He gave up some catches to Eric Decker (four receptions, 65 yards) but said the game didn’t take on any added meaning, despite his personal history with the opponent.
“No, man, a win is a win,” Revis said. “I’m excited for this team. We’re 5-2. The main goal for us was to win this game and be first in the [division], and we accomplished that.”
When the question of his end zone celebration came up, Shane Vereen almost choked up near the end of his answer. It’s been an emotional week for Patriots running backs, who lost their colleague, Ridley, to a season-ending knee injury. So when Vereen caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady on the fourth play of the game, he took a page from Ridley and copied his patented move of pretending to kick a door down.
“When a brother goes down, it takes a toll on everybody, especially the running back corps, we’re so tight,” Vereen said. “And so I tried to play for him.”
Vereen carried a season-high 11 times and gained 43 yards. He added five catches for 71 yards, including the 49-yarder, which he pulled in by diving headfirst toward the end zone.
“I just didn’t want that opportunity to kind of slip by,” Vereen said. “Those are the type of breakdowns that we look for, and we were able to connect.”
Former cornerback Ty Law, who helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls and was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in August, was honored at halftime.
“It means a lot. To have it come around one more time to say a final salute to the Patriot nation, it’s amazing,” Law said. “I think I [said] everything that I possibly could during the Hall of Fame ceremony, but to be able to go out on the field one last time in front of the crowd, on the football field, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Law, a five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, was also asked about the Patriots’ current No. 24, Revis, and how they’ve used him on defense. Law hinted that he may have played a small part in Revis choosing to sign with New England, and there are some similarities in the two: Both are from Aliquippa, Pa., and both have played for the Jets and Patriots.
“That was one of my selling points to him. If you were to come to the Patriots you would have an opportunity to do some of the same things that you did in New York. Somewhat different system, but you will still be in charge of taking out the top guy [in] man or zone, and I think that was one of the things that pushed him to come to New England,” said Law.
A handful of Law’s former Patriots teammates, including Deion Branch and Lawyer Milloy, were on hand to mark the occasion.
Devey drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty when he pushed the Jets’ Antwan Barnes, who had given Brady a shove out of bounds. “I didn’t really remember. I’m going to have to watch the tape on that,” said Devey. “All I saw was Tom down, so I was just trying to help him out.” . . . Julian Edelman recently moved past David Meggett and into third place on the franchise’s career punt return yardage list. Edelman, who came into Thursday’s game with 1,439 yards, trails only Troy Brown (2,625) and Irving Fryar (2,055) . . . How important was it for the Patriots to take a halftime lead on Thursday? They’ve now won 70 consecutive home games when leading at the break. The last time the Patriots lost a home game after leading at halftime was Dec. 24, 2000, when the Dolphins erased a 21-17 halftime deficit to win, 27-24 . . . For the first time all season, the Patriots played in a game that didn’t include a single turnover.