The New England Patriots were dealt another devastating blow on defense today. According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, safety Steve Gregory has been diagnosed with a broken thumb and will miss several weeks. As a result, rookie Duron Harmon is likely to start in his absence.
This could be a big blow to the Patriots’ defense in the short term. Gregory has been rock solid in the secondary for the Patriots this year, totaling 52 tackles with two passes defended on the season. Now the Patriots will have to rely on a rookie in Harmon to play a major role in the team’s secondary for the next few weeks at the very least.
The best case scenario from this injury would be that Harmon plays well filling in for Gregory, only hurting the Patriots’ depth in the secondary for the short term.
The worst case for the team would be that Harmon struggles, the depth suffers, and the Patriots’ progress in the secondary that has been so instrumental in their success so far this year suffers a setback from which it can’t recover. The fact that Aqib Talib could come back at the conclusion of the team’s bye should help Harmon along, however.
Nonetheless, this injury could wind up costing the Patriots a lot in the short term unless Harmon emerges as a legitimate defensive playmaker. With matchups against the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos the next two weeks following the bye, his defensive abilities will certainly be tested right out of the gate.