By: Ian Logue/
November 15, 2005

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FOXBORO, MA -- The injury situation just keeps getting worse for the New England Patriots.

After already absorbing more hits on both sides of the ball, the injury bug has become an epidemic in the Patriots locker room, with defensive back Randall Gay and center Dan Koppen both being placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

Defensive back Ellis Hobbs will need to stay healthy in what has become a secondary riddled with injuries (AP Photo)
Gay's season is over following an ankle injury that had hampered him for much of the year, and although he saw action during Sunday's 23-16 win over the Miami Dolphins, he apparently re-aggravated the injury.

As for Koppen he reportedly suffered a separated shoulder, which makes him the third offensive lineman to leave the starting line-up for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The team has already lost Matt Light and Tom Ashworth, with Koppen being the biggest loss since he's the one who makes the majority of the calls on the offensive line. He'll be replaced by Russ Hochstein, who came in the game after Hochstein left the field,

The trouble in the defensive backfield is obviously well known, with the most notable losses being starters Rodney Harrison and Tyrone Poole, both of whom are out for the season. The team has also lost Chad Scott, Duane Starks, and Guss Scott to injuries, and they too join Gay on injured reserve. On the offensive side of the ball the team is now without a starting running back, with Corey Dillon still dealing with nagging injuries, and his back-up, Patrick Pass, out with what is said to be a significant hamstring injury, while Kevin Faulk is also out with a broken foot.

According to published reports, Dillon said after the game that he doesn't want to come back until he is 100 percent because he reportedly feels like he's just injuring different parts of his body every time he goes out there. Head coach Bill Belichick told reporters on Monday that while the loss of his running back causes problems, the team will simply have to plug someone else in since they'll still need to attempt to run the ball regardless of who's out on the field.

”I think we're going to pretty much run whatever we're going to run against the opponents that we play based on what we think is best,” said Belichick. "Whoever is carrying it, whether it is Corey or it could be somebody else. I don't think you can go into a game and have too many of, ‘Well, this guy is going to carry these plays and that guy is going to carry it on other plays and if this guy gets hurt, we're not going to run these plays. We have a whole other set of plays for some other guy.' You just can't run a team like that. So, whatever you're going to run, you have to get in there and run them.”

Meanwhile the team signed free agent cornerback Artrell Hawkins and free agent offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski on Tuesday. Hawkins will replace Gay on the roster, while Mruczkowski will obviously replace Koppen.

Hawkins played with the Bengals from 1998-2003, and played in Carolina during the 2004 campaign. He has played in 103 career games with 76 starts. As for Mruczkowski, he joins New England's active roster for the second time this season and was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent on May 16, 2003. He's played in 10 career games, all with the Patriots in 2004.