New England's win over Buffalo Sunday came with a significant loss.
Linebacker Adalius Thomas, who has started all nine games for the Patriots and is tied for the team lead with five sacks, suffered a broken left forearm in the first half of the Patriots 20-10 win, according to sources. The sources believe the injury is likely season ending.
"It's not good. He's probably done [for the season]," said one source.
Team spokesman Stacey James said Monday the next injury update would come after Tuesday's practice. A spokesman for Thomas' agent, James "Bus" Cook Jr., said the player had not returned a phone call to Cook.
"I think it'll be difficult" to replace Thomas, said Mike Vrabel, the team's other starting outside linebacker. "He was a leader. He was a veteran guy that played well and we'll just have to find guys to step up."
New England is 6-3 and tied for first place in the AFC East despite a season-ending injuries to quarterback Tom Brady, safety Rodney Harrison, and running back Laurence Maroney as well as the absence of running backs Sammy Morris and LaMont Jordan.
Pierre Woods, a third-year pro from Michigan, took over for Thomas on Sunday and likely will get his first pro start against the Jets.
"It's definitely an opportunity," said Woods, who has played 33 games since the Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent. "So just go out there and do my job and I think I'll be fine."
As the injuries pile up, players keep repeating coach Bill Belichick's message to them: Don't do anything special, just do your job.
"We've been through this before; '03, '04 had been the same thing" with numerous injuries, defensive end Jarvis Green said. "Guys just filling in and playing their role, that's part of the game. It happens and we have to make the best of what we have in this locker room."
Thomas played some inside linebacker last season when the Patriots had Rosevelt Colvin on the outside. Colvin signed as a free agent with Houston, but was released in late August in the final preseason roster cut.
He recovered from a foot injury suffered last season and is available if the Patriots want to add depth.
The Patriots' success despite injuries to top players doesn't amaze cornerback Ellis Hobbs.
"I was never amazed," he said. "Any time you lose a player, especially an impact player like [Thomas], it hurts. But he'll tell you himself: The machine can't stop. It has to keep on rolling."
And he's not amazed that so many outstanding Patriots have been hurt.
"You're asking a dude that gets hurt a lot about injuries. It happens, man," said Hobbs, who had offseason surgery on his left shoulder and for a sports hernia. "It's a physical league, big guys running around, big, fast guys that are trying to hurt people.
"You expect it to happen [and] hope you took out your insurance policy and keep on moving, man."
Michael Smith is an NFL reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.