The New England Patriots are likely to be without starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night at Acrisure Stadium. Stevenson’s initial X-rays on his ankle were negative, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. The belief is the MRI will show a sprain, but they won’t know for sure until the tests. The initial belief is Stevenson will miss time, possibly multiple games, with the ankle injury. The subsequent tests will paint a clearer picture.
Stevenson was injured on a hip-drop tackle by Chargers outside linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu in the first quarter of New England’s 6-0 loss to Los Angeles on Sunday. Stevenson fumbled and the Chargers recovered the ball. He did not return to the game.
Looks like the “hip drop” tackle is what got #Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson hurt.
The #NFL is expected to aggressively push to ban this style of tackling.
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) December 3, 2023
The NFL is looking into possibly banning the hip-drop tackle. According to The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen, early studies by the league have found that these types of tackles have 25 times more likelihood of injuring a player than other tackles. They can end in significant lower-body issues like knee injuries, high ankle sprains, and, in some cases, fractures.
Stevenson is one of the few bright spots of the Patriots’ dreadful offense, rushing for 619 yards on 156 carries (4.0 average) and four touchdowns, which is tied for the team high total. Stevenson also has 38 receptions for 406 yards. Veteran running back Ezekiel Elliott will be the Patriots’ main ball carrier on Thursday night with Stevenson likely out. Elliott has rushed for 429 yards on 112 carries (3.8 average) and three touchdowns this season.
In the last three games, the 2-10 Patriots have scored 0, 7 and 6 points. They’re the first team since 1938 to lose three straight games where they didn’t allow more than 10 points, per CBS Sports. The Patriots rank dead last in scoring, averaging a measly 12.3 points per game.
The Steelers are also dealing with a slew of injuries following their 24-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick broke his left hand, and it’s expected that quarterback Kenny Pickett (right ankle) will be out for Thursday night’s game against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick had his hand casted during the extended weather delay break and he returned to finish the game. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had no further postgame update on the ailments to Elandon Roberts (groin) and Isaac Seumalo (shoulder), both left the game in the first half and did not return.