Christian Barmore trending in the right direction after knee injury

Christian Barmore entered the 2022 season as a prime contender for the famous second jump. Barmore, who was selected as the second-round draft selection for the New England Patriots last spring, had had an impressive rookie season and seemed to have an even bigger role to play with a year of experience under his belt.

There have been lightning bolts this season, but the biggest story of his season so far is his injury woes. Barmore injured his knee in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns and as a result had to miss the Patriots’ next three games before their bye.

While there was some optimism that Barmore could return after an effectively four-week hiatus, his comeback had to be postponed: he suffered an apparent setback leading into Week 11. Accordingly, New England put him on injured reserve – taking him off the active roster and sidelining him for another four weeks.

Barmore finally made his return against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15. And while both that game and the second since his return resulted in a loss, the 23-year-old has had some positive contributions and appears to have returned to his prehistory. Injury level of the game.

“Good to have him back,” New England head coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call earlier this week. “He looks like he has his power and explosiveness back. It’s good to have him. You know, every game – he’s played a few games – he’s gotten a little bit better. Hopefully it stays that way.”

Barmore played 50 percent of the snaps on his return against the Raiders and was felt immediately.

The game against the Cincinnati Bengals a week later was similar. While he fielded for just 34 percent of New England’s defensive snaps that week — a career low outside the Browns game, which he left early — and registered no pressure stats in his 28 snaps, Barmore had an impact.

Take the next game in the second quarter. After the Patriots backed away from their double-mug alignment — that is, with two stand-up defenders over the A-gaps — the Bengals’ offensive line focused on Barmore.

He had no statistically discernible impact on that game, but his presence and the respect he showed the blockers in front of him helped Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr. make better matchups.

With the Patriots set to play two competitive games against Miami and Buffalo in the final two weeks of the season, having Barmore at full strength is certainly a good thing. Eventually, if he maxes out his abilities, he can be a disruptive presence along the inside line of defense and – as demonstrated in the game against Cincinnati – help create chances for his teammates.

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