Neal to decide future in offseason

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots guard Stephen Neal spoke to reporters on Friday for the first time since being placed on season-ending injured reserve on Dec. 2. Neal said that he underwent a procedure “a couple weeks ago” on his injured shoulder, which had kept him out of game action since the team's Nov. 7 game in Cleveland.

“[The shoulder] bothered me for a little bit, and it just never came back around like I’d like it to. I didn’t think I’d be able to help the team that much, so I got it cleaned up,” Neal said. “I think I’ve had so many issues on my [right] shoulder that it’s just wasn’t working too good.”

The 34-year-old Neal contemplated retirement last offseason before re-signing with a two-year deal. He said that he has not made any decisions on his playing career yet.

“I’ll definitely do that later. I want to go through rehab and expect to come [around], and keep doing the [rehab], because if you go through rehab without hopes of returning you’re not going to do a good job of rehabbing,” Neal explained. “I’ll just evaluate things later.”

Like many other injured players, Neal has been spotted in the Patriots’ locker room even after going on injured reserve. He confirmed on Friday that he has stayed in Foxborough for his rehab.

“I want to come in here and have a good rehab. I think being around people who really want to get better in the training room is going to help me work a little harder,” Neal said. “[Rather than] a rehab facility somewhere else, with 60-year old people who don’t care if their knee gets better or not.”

While injured running back Kevin Faulk has remained in team meetings as a mentor to the younger players at his position, Neal said he has kept a low profile to avoid becoming a distraction.

“All I’m focusing on is rehab, and not being a distraction to these guys. Let them do their thing, and I’ll come and do my rehab, get in and out of here,” Neal said. “It’s frustrating, but it’s part of sports. You sign up for the good things, and the bad things happen too, so you can’t get too upset about it.”