The Injury List Continues To Grow
The New England Patriots were forced to put some players on
the injured reserve list instead of waiting for them to heal. Out are cornerback
Randall Gay who has been hobbled by an ankle injury, and center Dan Koppen who
suffered a shoulder injury in the game against the Dolphins.
have had more than their fair share of injured players in 2005, yet they manage
to soldier on. The question is for how much longer.
To get some healthy
bodies into the mix, the Patriots signed former Patriot offensive lineman Gene
Mruczkowski who will backup Russ Hochstein, Koppen's replacement on Sunday. They
also signed free agent cornerback Artrell Hawkins to assume Randall Gay's spot
in the secondary.
Mruczkowski, who was released by the Patriots earlier
this season (October 2, 2005), was originally acquired by the team as an undrafted
free agent on May 16, 2003. The former Purdue Boilermaker spent the 2004 season
as the backup center behind Koppen.
Hawkins is in his eighth NFL season,
having spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals (1998-2003), Carolina Panthers (2004)
and a brief stint with the Washington Redskins (2005). The University of Cincinnati
Bearcat was originally drafted by the Bengals in the second round of the 1998
NFL Draft (43rd overall).
The Patriots are now without
both starting corners for last season, including their backup cornerbacks. Effectively,
they have moved to the third-string reserves as injuries have crippled the secondary.
Looking at the names missing from last season's Super Bowl team is enough to make
one wonder if the team can even make the playoffs in 2005.
Hawkins has had
some success early in his career with the Bengals, and again with the Panthers
as recently as 2004. He apparently beat out the other defensive backs who were
in for a tryout with the team last week names that included; Pete Hunter, Ken
Irvin and Donald Strickland.
Hawkins will be a reserve DB with Ellis Hobbs
likely getting his second start against the New Orleans Saints.
signing was a safe signing for the Patriots who needed another experienced lineman
on a unit also beset by injury. The loss of Koppen on top of the losses of Ashworth
and Light means the Patriots will have two players left on the offensive line
who started the season at that position. What makes it more challenging for the
Patriots is that two of those starters are rookies, and the other two were backups
headed into the season. Stephen Neal is the last starter standing.