Julian Edelman Patriots
Julian Edelman is tied for second on the New England Patriots with 61 receptions. Getty

The New England Patriots have the best record in the AFC, but it certainly hasn’t been an easy road for the defending Super Bowl champions. New England has suffered an inordinate amount of injuries in 2015, and the team continues to lose key players for the rest of the season.

Tom Brady has stayed healthy and played at an MVP level, but the quarterback is one of the few players that has been spared. Only one NFL team has been forced to use more players than the Patriots, who have trotted out 68 players onto the field since Week 1.

The Patriots defeated the Houston Texans 27-6 in Week 14, but the win came at a price, as the team lost multiple players for the remainder of the year. In Week 15, New England hosts the Tennessee Titans, hoping to escape with a win and no more injuries.

Out for the Season

New England lost a second running back for the season on Sunday when LeGarrette Blount suffered a hip injury. Blount is the team’s leading rusher with 703 rushing yards. Dion Lewis tore his ACL earlier this season, and no one on the Patriots’ active roster has more than 110 rushing yards in 2015. New England signed running back Montee Ball to the practice squad.

Defensive tackle Dominique Easley suffered a season-ending thigh injury in Week 14. Easley had two sacks and 15 tackles on the year.

Banged Up

Devin McCourty has missed just one game in the last four seasons, but the defensive back sprained his ankle against Houston. The injury won’t end the defensive back’s season, but he could miss some time. McCourty wasn’t at practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Jonathan Freeny didn’t practice either. He dislocated his thumb and part of his wrist in Week 14, and is expected to miss time, as well. Freeny’s 43 tackles rank seventh on the team.

Getting Healthy

New England’s two losses came when Brady was without his top playmakers, but the quarterback will soon have his most important weapons back on the field. Julian Edelman hasn’t played in a game since he broke part of his foot against the New York Giants, but he returned to practice on Wednesday. He might not play against the Titans, but the wide receiver appears to be on his way to coming back.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught four passes, including a touchdown reception, in Week 14 after missing one game. Wide receiver Danny Amendola has played in two straight games after sitting out the team’s game against the Broncos in Week 12.