The Patriots placed left tackle Isaiah Wynn on injured reserve Tuesday, sidelining him for at least eight weeks and dealing another blow to the New England offensive line.
Wynn suffered turf toe Sunday in the win over the Dolphins, just his second NFL game. Wynn, taken by the Patriots No. 23 overall in the 2018 draft, missed his rookie season after tearing his Achilles’ in the preseason. He will now miss at least half of this season.
If he is ready, Wynn can return to practice after six weeks and to game action after eight weeks. That puts his earliest possible return as the Week 11 game Nov. 17 in Philadelphia. In the interim, the Patriots play the Jets, Bills, Redskins, Giants, Jets, Browns, and Ravens, and have their bye in Week 10.
In a best-case scenario, Wynn would be back for the toughest stretch of the Patriots’ schedule, but the team would still be in a bind before then. Starting center David Andrews is out for the season and has been replaced by Ted Karras. Right tackle Marcus Cannon missed Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury. He should be back soon, but now New England has its other talented tackle to worry about.
“Isaiah’s been playing good, solid football, and we’ll see how that all goes when all of that plays out this week and moving forward,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday morning. “It’s a normal part of our job, and Dante [Scarnecchia, the offensive line coach] does it as good or better than anybody else. He coaches every player the same.”
When Wynn went down, newly acquired backup Marshall Newhouse, who started the game in Cannon’s place at right tackle, swung over to play the left side. Another recent addition, Korey Cunningham, stepped in to play right tackle.
It’s possible that Wynn’s injury could force left guard Joe Thuney over to left tackle, a position he practiced during the spring and in early training camp days when Wynn was still coming back from the Achilles’ injury.
“We need somebody that can do that and Joe’s our most versatile lineman on the team, so that is an important role for us to have in terms of maintaining our depth with the group,” coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday. Belichick was praising Thuney for his versatility in general, not saying that Thuney would definitely move to tackle.
The Patriots also signed free agent offensive tackle Caleb Benenoch, who has played in 35 NFL games, with 22 starts, all for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay drafted him in the fifth round in 2016. Benenoch played in college at UCLA.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pounder made 16 starts at right guard last year but also can play tackle.
According to NFL rules, a team can bring two players back from non-season-ending injured reserve. Assuming they do get healthy, the Patriots would like to bring Wynn and wide receiver N’Keal Harry back midseason and could potentially have a difficult decision to make if another key player got hurt.
Wynn’s injury is the latest and one of the more significant in a string of unfortunate events that has befallen the Patriots’ offensive line over the past several months. It started in the spring when tackle Jared Veldheer retired and continued in the summer when Brian Schwenke did the same just before training camp.
The Patriots had received what seemed like good news on Monday when, after an MRI, Wynn’s turf toe was deemed not to be season-ending. That’s still the case, but he’ll be out for a while.