FOXBORO -- When Trey Flowers went down late in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Dolphins, the Patriots medical staff had already had itself a busy day. And it didn't end there.
The Patriots began the game with six players -- David Andrews, Martellus Bennett, Marcus Cannon, Chris Hogan, Eric Rowe and Matthew Slater -- who weren't healthy enough to play. Then over the course of their 35-17 victory they lost six more players to injury for at least some portion of the game.
Nate Ebner suffered a knee injury during New England's first drive when he successfully converted a fake punt for a first down. He was ruled out soon after leaving the game, indicating that it was serious. Another core special teamer, Trevor Reilly, left the game with a concussion and did not return when he collided violently with Miami's Senorise Perry during a Patriots kickoff.
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Marquis Flowers and Trey Flowers were injured during the same play -- a Trey Flowers sack deep in Miami territory -- and were tended to by trainers on the field before being helped off. Marquis Flowers returned to the game, but his teammate did not.
After the game, both players indicated that they were OK. Trey Flowers, who was announced as having a rib injury, played 35 snaps in the game before leaving. For the season, he has played 88 percent of the snaps -- a serious increase from last season when he came into his own later in the year -- and said that he feels as though he's handling the workload well.
"I'm good," Flowers said. "It's football. You gotta take care of your body. You gotta be a pro about it. I think I'm doing an all right job."
The Patriots also lost linebacker Kyle Van Noy and right tackle LaAdrian Waddle to injuries suffered against the Dolphins.
Waddle had a player fall on the back of his right leg in the fourth quarter. He wore a walking boot as he left the locker room but indicated that the full extent of the injury was not yet known.
Van Noy left the game after recording a fourth-quarter sack. Team doctor Mark Price seemed to be looking at Van Noy's lower right leg and right calf before the hybrid linebacker-slash-end exited.
After the game, Bill Belichick spoke to the challenge that in-game injuries pose for a coaching staff that has to figure out how to adjust on the fly.
"We obviously practice our backups to each position, but . . . when multiple players are injured and particularly when it’s on one play, then it creates a little bit of a scramble," Belichick said. "A bigger problem -- I’m not saying that’s not a big problem -- but even a bigger problem is in the kicking game because you have six units on special teams. You have kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return, field goal, field goal block, so when you lose a player there, like when Nate [Ebner] went down, you lose a guy that’s on five of those six teams and it’s not always the same guy replacing him. So it could be this guy on this team, that guy on another team and so forth and then you add a couple of guys in, so that’s challenging.
"For the coaches and the players, that’s part of football, unfortunately. We have to practice those situations and everybody needs to know who’s behind who. Sometimes it knocks you out of a certain grouping or a certain unit that you have out there, but you know that if you get knocked out of that then you back it up with something else, whatever your alternative group is.
"That’s just something as a coach that you have to be ready to do in all three phases of the game. If you have a guy that’s a key guy in one particular group, or unit or personnel groping, and then he’s not available, then you have to maybe go to a different grouping. You have to make that adjustment. Sometimes you put another guy in for him and stay the same. Depending on which one of those it is, that’s the challenge."