BOSTON (CBS) – Safety Steve Gregory has assumed a new leadership role on the Patriots defense since the loss of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo.
Wearing the green dot on his helmet since Mayo tore his pectoral muscle against the Saints, he’s been saddled with defensive play-calling duties in recent weeks. But he left Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers early in the third quarter with a thumb injury and never returned.
Pass rusher Rob Ninkovich, another player the Patriots simply can’t afford to lose, left the game in the second quarter and never returned. All reports have indicated that Ninkovich did not appear to be hobbled or visibly limping in the locker room afterwards, which a positive sign for the Pats.
With Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and now Tommy Kelly all out for the remainder of the season, losing a starting safety would make you start wondering how much is too much.
Gresh and Zolak wondered how much is too much Monday morning, and a discussion started over the league-wide injury problem.
“We are on pace to have 400 guys end up on injured reserve at some point this year. Basically, that’s around 12 to 13 players per team. If you look at the Patriots right now, I think the Patriots have 10 on injured reserve. That’s just them,” said Gresh on injuries in the NFL.
“When you look at this team, you’ve lost Kelly, Wilfork and Mayo – the middle of your defense. With Gregory hurt, Ninkovich hurt and Aqib Talib out of the lineup, that’s six starters and four guys who play in the middle of your defense. You’re getting to critical mass here,” said Gresh.
Zo furthered the discussion by explaining how injuries on defense don’t just affect that unit, but the entire team. He cited examples of defensive players getting injured and blitz packages and personnel getting all out of whack, and that can creep its way into your special teams.
Speaking of special teams, that’s one area Gresh and Zo think needs vast improvement and reasons were given why that group wasn’t great against the Steelers.
Listen to their full analysis below: