The Patriots suffered another blow as fullback Jakob Johnson is headed to injured reserve after sustaining a shoulder injury in Thursday night’s win over the Giants, according to a league source Friday.
Johnson was one of several Patriots players injured in the 35-14 victory that ran New England’s record to 6-0.
Receiver Josh Gordon (knee), safety Patrick Chung (knee), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), cornerback J.C. Jackson (knee), and tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) all left the game.
Only LaCosse (briefly) and Jackson returned.
According to the league source, other players injured against the Giants will be reassessed after the weekend.
Injuries are not uncommon for Thursday night games, as players are forced to break from their normal routines. Rest, relaxation, and recovery time are hard to come by on short weeks.
“Thursday night games are tough,’’ Bill Belichick said Friday morning. “It’s a quick turnaround. The preparation is tough. The physical rebound off a Sunday game is tough.
“We traveled from Washington, [the Giants] traveled here for the game, so when you add all of that up, it’s a challenge.’’
The Patriots were left so shorthanded on offense that they were forced to go with one personnel grouping for the entire second half (not counting the kneeldowns on the final drive).
“The credit really goes to the guys that were out there,’’ said offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. “We had, I believe, 10 players that played about the last 50 plays of the game with no rest because we didn’t have a substitute.
“They deserve a tremendous amount of credit for that, and they really did a good job of playing a lot of roles and doing a lot of things in the game that they hadn’t necessarily walked through last week or practiced with very few mental errors.’’
New England’s mini bye week couldn’t come at a better time. The Patriots won’t play again until they travel to the Meadowlands for a Monday night game against the Jets Oct. 21.
“We’re glad we have a few extra days here to kind of rest, recover, and evaluate where we’re at here and be ready to move forward for the Jets, which comes on a long week,” said Belichick, “so when you add them all together, other than a bye, it’s about as much time as you’re going to get during the NFL season.
“We’ll try to take advantage of that and utilize whatever time we have, which is what we always try to do, utilize it efficiently.’’
While the short-term goal is to recover from the short week, the rest will help with what has been a long haul since the summer.
“We’ve had six games and these guys have been playing a lot of football,’’ said the coach. “Really, it’s been pretty nonstop for the last 12 weeks going back to the start of training camp in July.
“You grind all the way through camp, grind through six regular-season games. It’s tough. But now, it’s an opportunity to get a little window and so we’ll try to take advantage of that and be ready to go against the Jets.”
Johnson had been one of the feel-good stories on the Patriots and in the NFL this season. A native of Germany, he signed with the Patriots through the league’s International Pathway Program.
Belichick called Johnson’s transformation from “definitely the 91st person on the roster” to a starter as a “remarkable.’’
Johnson was cut at the end of camp, signed on with the practice squad, and was elevated to the active roster after fullback James Develin was placed on IR with a neck ailment suffered in Week 2 in Miami.
Johnson has steadily improved since his promotion and often worked with Develin to sharpen his game.
The fullback spot is a key position in New England’s offensive schemes, so the search for a replacement likely is already underway.
Johnson is the fifth Patriot to be placed on IR since the season started, along with Develin, receiver N’Keal Harry, left tackle Isaiah Wynn, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
The Patriots can bring two players back from IR. Harry would be eligible to return in Week 9, Wynn in Week 11, and Develin in Week 12.