New England Patriots linebacker Chase Winovich left during the second half of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys with a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old limped off the field following a Patriots punt in the early third quarter. Winovich went to the locker room and was later announced as questionable to return. He was later downgraded to doubtful and finally ruled out for the remainder of the game in the fourth quarter.
On Tuesday, the Patriots found out that they will be without the services of the outside linebacker for at least the next three games. As confirmed by the NFL’s transaction wire, Winovich has been played on injured reserve; meaning that he must sit out for at least three weeks before being eligible to return, in accordance with NFL regulations.
Despite missing significant time this offseason, Winovich remained on the list of defenders that could have a significant impact on the Pats front seven in 2021. When he is at his best, Winovich brings a non-stop motor to the edge rush/outside linebacker position. As such, the Patriots appeared open to his continuing in that role this season. To do that, however, he needed to see the field. Winovich opened training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list with an undisclosed injury. New England reactivated the 26-year old on August 15. As he worked his way back into playing shape, Winovich remained intent to focus on his consistency; especially when it comes to funneling run plays into the middle. As a result, many expected him to see notable snaps as an off-the-ball defender, or as a package-specific pass rusher.
However, things have not exactly gone according to plan for both Winovich and the Patriots, thus far. Through their first six games, New England’s former third-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft has seven tackles, one quarterback hit and zero sacks in 78 defensive snaps. He has also played 75 snaps in the kicking game.
Still, what might be most surprising is that Winovich has taken only 18.8 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season. The University of Michigan product played on 58 percent last season. He did not take a defensive snap for New England on Sunday, playing only eight special teams snaps before suffering his hamstring injury.
In addition to Winovich, the Patriots employ Ja’Whaun Bentley, Dont’a Hightower, Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy, Josh Uche, Harvey Langi, Jamie Collins, Brandon King and rookie Ronnie Perkins listed at the linebacker position. Winovich has also seen time on the edge, playing behind Deatrich Wise, Jr. Upon his return to the lineup, he will face significant competition for playing time, with fellow edge defenders Judon, Van Noy, and Perkins expected to pick-up the slack in his absence.