The New England Patriots will have some serious injury issues at their skill position groups against the Steelers. They ruled out wide receivers Demario ‘Pop’ Douglas (concussion) and Kayshone Boutte (shoulder) in addition to running back Rhamdondre Stevenson (high ankle sprain). Meanwhile, wide receivers Devante Parker (knee) and JuJu Smith-Schuster (ankle) are questionable and practiced in limited capacities. It seems that Parker and Smith-Schuster have decent chances to play, but still, the group is down multiple receivers.
Kendrick Bourne landed on injured reserve last month. If Smith-Schuster and Parker play, the rest of the group will be filled out with Jalen Reagor and Tyquan Thornton. Ezekiel Elliott will start in place of Stevenson, with backups Ty Montgomery and JaMychal Hasty ready to go if he got injured. The team does have a healthy tight end room with Hunter Henry and Mike Geisicki to rely upon.
In addition to the skill position injuries, offensive lineman Riley Reiff is out, and backup cornerback Shaun Wade will not play with an illness. Standout defensive lineman Christian Barmore has a shoulder injury and is questionable. Starting left tackle Trent Brown is questionable with two separate injuries. This is a banged up team limping into action with questions at quarterback.
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.
Douglas has racked up 36 catches for 410 yards on the season. If he can not play, the team will turn to other receivers, who are also banged up, and the deep tight end room that they like to include.
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 offense, averaging a measly 12.3 points per game.