The Patriots’ defense may have avoided a significant blow in Thursday’s 28-21 win over the Steelers. The injury which caused lineman Dominique Easley to exit in the first quarter is a hip pointer that should only keep him out a week or two, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).
New England is counting on Easley, a second-year man, to help replace longtime run-stopping stalwart Vince Wilfork – who signed with the Texans in the offseason. The Patriots struggled to slow down the Steelers’ ground attack with and without Easley on Thursday, allowing 134 yards on just 25 carries. Nearly all of those yards – 127, to be exact – were accumulated by DeAngelo Williams, who amassed 21 carries.
Injuries have long been an issue for Easley, who tore the ACL in both of his knees during his college career at Florida (in 2011 and ’13, respectively). Nonetheless, the Patriots used a first-round pick in the 2014 draft on Easley, whose rookie season was subsequently cut short because of yet another knee injury. He ended up playing in 11 games, totaling 10 tackles and a sack. So far, his attempt to stay healthy and fill a bigger role with the 2015 Pats isn’t off to an auspicious start.