With Week 7 upon us, the New England Patriots could potentially welcome back a couple faces from injured reserve.
Starting center David Andrews was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 26 after reportedly breaking his thumb. Rookie linebacker Josh Uche was placed on injured reserve the same day for what seemed to be a foot injury based on the injury reports leading up to his IR designation. Both of those players are now eligible to be activated from injured reserve if they are healthy enough.
During Andrews' absence the Patriots have had to get very creative. Take New England's last game for example; with Andrews and James Ferentz (reserve/COVID-19) out of the lineup, the Patriots started Joe Thuney at center, Isaiah Wynn at left guard, rookie Justin Herron at left tackle and rookie Michael Onwenu at right guard. Then when Jermaine Eluemunor -- who started the game at right tackle -- left the game due to an ankle injury, second-year lineman Hjalte Froholdt came in and played right guard, and Onwenu slid over to right tackle.
Overall, the offensive line has played exceptional this season given the circumstances. But having Andrews back in the lineup would create much more consistency across the unit.
Uche has yet to make his regular-season debut. He was inactive for New England’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins for what seemed to be game-plan purposes. Then he was hit with the injury bug, missing the Patriots' Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks and then winding up on injured reserve. So while his return from injured reserve would be good news, it doesn't guarantee Uche will be on the game day roster.
The first sign that Andrews and/or Uche could be activated from injured reserve this week is if they are seen at practice. From there it is up to the coaching staff and the training staff to decide if either or both of those players are healthy enough to be activated from injured reserve, or if they should take more time to rehab back from their respective injuries.
Keep an eye on reports coming out of Patriots practice on Wednesday. That will be our first chance to see if Andrews and/or Uche will return to the 53-man roster ahead of New England's game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
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