Night net This isn’t even close to the first time the Patriots’ eulogies have been written over a seemingly significant player loss, short-term or long
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Adding Dion Lewis, others to pile of Patriots injuries could actually doom them this time

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Adding Dion Lewis, others to pile of Patriots injuries could actually doom them this time

Night net This isn’t even close to the first time the Patriots’ eulogies have been written over a seemingly significant player loss, short-term or long. It’s just the latest. But one of these days, they’ll be proven true.This could be the one. They’re losing running back Dion Lewis for at least the first six weeks of the regular season, according to reports. According to another report, they’re losing veteran tackle Sebastian Vollmer for the same period of time, and possibly the entire season. And Shaq Mason, their second-year guard, reportedly has a broken hand. MORE: Fantasy football's top values, steals and targets Those are all positions Jimmy Garoppolo badly needs to get him through his Tom Brady replacement period the first four weeks. They’re positions Brady will need when he comes back, for that matter. But once again, the hole the Patriots had to fill for that first month gets a little deeper.  They always dig out of them, no matter when they pop up or how deep they get. Afterward, everybody laughs and mocks the doubters because Bill Belichick just keeps on being Bill Belichick.He’ll have to do it again. Add Lewis, Vollmer and Mason to Rob Ninkovich, expected to miss at least the start of the regular season with a torn triceps. Less worrisome is, reportedly, a suspension of defensive tac

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kle Alan Branch, which might only be for a short time in the preseason … and Brady himself, who was suddenly scratched before this week’s Bears game because he cut his hand with a pair of tape scissors.Brady could be fine and ready to loosen up again, or he could show up for his return from suspension with a bionic hand. Chances are the team will keep us guessing either way. The rest, however, can’t be minimized in their impact.The doubters stand ready to be mocked again, because history demands that. But nothing lasts forever, and pretending this is just a mild speed bump is extremely premature … and disrespectful of exactly how humbling the Night net is.MORE: Ranking the Night net's top 25 QBsFor example: Lewis was a revelation in the first half of last season, when the Patriots were entertaining visions of 16-0. This setback is reportedly a complication of his torn ACL from last November, which is not uncommon and serves as a reminder that Adrian Peterson’s blindingly-fast recovery four years ago was the exception, not the rule. As interchangeable as the Patriots’ backs have been over the years, and as often as they purposely suppress their running game at unpredictable times, Lewis had the looks of somebody who would be a major factor for a long time. And, having fought his way back from a previous serious injury (a broken leg in 2013, two entire seasons out of the Night net), he was an inspiration.Most of all, a potent running game is a first-time starting quarterback’s best friend.FANTASY FOOTBALL: Some RBs still among top picks  So is a potent offensive line. Vollmer reportedly has right hip problems that, at 32 and heading into his eighth season, could end his career. Mason is one of the two draft picks from last season, along with Tre Jackson, who got shuffled around on the line to make up for a slew of injuries.Anybody who saw the AFC championship game against the Broncos doesn’t need to be reminded how much the Patriots need to get their line straight. Losing their entire projected right side — that doesn’t qualify as getting it straight.It seems gloomy again, except to those who have unconditional faith in the Patriot Way.The Night net Way eventually has its way with everybody, though. If this is the year it puts a real dent in the Patriots, don’t be surprised.

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