The New England Patriots will be without one of their top defensive contributors for some time, and possibly for the rest of the season.
Defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale is believed to have suffered a torn biceps muscle in the team's win over the New York Jets, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported. The Patriots are waiting for further tests to confirm the injury, but the Patriots “are bracing” for the loss of Ekuale, according to Reiss.
At the very least, Ekuale will likely be heading to injured reserve due to the injury, which would rule him out for at least four games. But torn bicep injuries have typically been season-ending injuries for NFL players in recent seasons. For instance, Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater suffered a torn bicep in Week 3 last season that ended his year.
Ekuale has been a sneaky contributor for the Patriots through the first three games of the season. He had the second-best run defense grade among Patriots defensive linemen through the first three games (72.0), via Pro Football Focus. Ekuale had 14 total tackles and two sacks last season, mostly contributing on passing downs. He also had 22 total pressures last season, via PFF.
The 29-year-old has been with the Patriots since the start of the 2021 season, joining New England after stints with the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars. He recorded a sack in his one season with the Jaguars before recording two sacks in seven games in his first season with the Patriots.
Ekuale's injury will likely mean an increased workload for 2022 sixth-round pick Sam Roberts, who replaced Ekuale on Sunday. Roberts filled in for Ekuale on Sunday, recording 18 snaps. He had a tackle and a pressure during his outing. Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux might also have to take on heavier workloads. Barmore recorded his first sack of the season on Sunday while Godchaux has five total tackles this season.