Riley Reiff made it through last season unscathed, but the veteran tackle will spend time on IR for the second time in three years. The Patriots shifted Reiff to IR on Monday and promoted tight end Pharaoh Brown from the practice squad.
The 12th-year blocker suffered a right leg injury in the Pats’ preseason finale. Although Reiff’s timetable is not known, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes the issue is not believed to be one that will end the veteran’s season. Still, this stands to affect the Patriots’ offensive line configuration to start the season.
Both tackle spots loomed as concerns for the Patriots this offseason, with perennial injury risk Trent Brown having missed time earlier this year. New England had also experienced issues at guard, with Michael Onwenu coming off the active/PUP list in late August. Cole Strange has also missed notable preseason time. Reiff now must miss at least four games. He will factor into the Pats’ IR-return mix; teams have eight such activations available in-season.
Reiff has only played tackle in games as a pro, but the former first-round pick was working at guard — a position he slid to at points in practice for the then-guard-limited Pats — when the injury occurred, Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald notes. Reiff signed a one-year, $5MM deal in March, coming over after spending 2022 in Chicago. A Bears backup to start last season, Reiff eventually replaced Larry Borom in the 3-14 team’s lineup and started 10 games.
The well-traveled blocker has not run into substantial injury problems over the course of his career, only missing more than four games in a season once. That came in 2021, when an ankle injury sidelined him for the Bengals’ final five games. Working as Cincinnati’s starting right tackle that year, Reiff did not return for the team’s Super Bowl LVI run. Reiff, 34, will begin this season having started 149 career games.
This development creates uncertainty for the Pats, who were connected to a bigger investment at the position than the ones they eventually made. Rumored to be eyeing one of the top right tackles, the Pats instead added Reiff and ex-Broncos swing tackle Calvin Anderson. The team has rookie Sidy Sow as an option, and Kyed notes Onwenu moving back to tackle — a position he played earlier in his career with the Patriots — could be an emergency avenue. That would create a right guard vacancy.
New England also has Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and recent trade acquisition Vederian Lowe on its 53-man roster. Wheatley has yet to suit up for an NFL game; Lowe played in four as a Vikings backup last season. Sow arrived this year as a fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan. Anderson is the most experienced Patriots backup tackle. The Broncos’ tackle issues led to Anderson starting a career-high seven games last season. He has made 12 career starts but spent much of training camp on the active/non-football illness list.