The Patriots were dealt a big blow Thursday night when rookie offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon and was lost for the rest of the season, a league source confirmed.
Wynn, the team’s top draft pick this year and the 23rd overall choice, backpedaled smoothly from his right tackle spot and briefly engaged Philadelphia defensive end Michael Bennett, who made a pocket push toward Tom Brady. As Brady released the ball, Wynn stumbled slightly and then started hobbling toward the sideline.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 310-pounder was quickly met at the sideline by the medical staff and spent a short stint in the medical tent. Although the severity of the injury was unknown at the time, it was telling that Wynn needed to be carted to the locker room, which is just a short distance (though a flight of stairs is involved) from the sideline.
Wynn had replaced LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle — his first experience at the position after he had worked on the left side throughout camp — on the second drive of the game. He suffered the injury on the first play of the third drive.
“This is my first time playing the right side,’’ Wynn said earlier in the week. “It’s a difference but you get used to it. It’s just everything is flipped around. If you’re righthanded, try writing with your left, you know?”
Wynn was recently lauded by Bill Belichick as a “smart kid” who “picks things up well.”
Wynn’s athleticism and versatility at Georgia — he played both left guard and tackle — likely were major reasons the Patriots valued him.
Wynn provided one of the best moments of camp when he fielded a punt (on his second chance) during the team’s in-stadium practice in Week 2. Wynn’s success lifted the team’s curfew for two straight nights
His injury reshuffles the depth at tackle. With starting right tackle Marcus Cannon already dealing with an undisclosed injury, the current starters are Trent Brown on the left side and Waddle on the right.
Veterans Matt Tobin and Ulrick John have some experience at the position, as does second-year player Cole Croston, who was a surprising DNP against the Eagles despite being in uniform.
The Patriots have had tough luck with their top three picks this season. In addition to Wynn, running back Sony Michel, also a first-rounder, has missed the last two weeks of camp as he recovers from a knee injury. And second-round defensive back Duke Dawson has been limited in practice recently and missed the game against the Eagles.
This is the second straight season in which New England lost its top pick for the year during the preseason. Last season, Derek Rivers suffered a torn ACL during joint practices with the Texans.
Rivers has come back strong this summer, and the hope now is that Wynn will follow suit.