One of the more impressive facets to the Patriots’ decade-plus long run of success under Bill Belichick has been the team’s ability to overcome injuries, both to star players and reserves.
Injuries aren’t often discussed in depth at this juncture of the offseason, as we’re still roughly 50 days from the start of training camp, and most players have sufficient time to heal from any ailments they may have encountered.
And while it appears that the Patriots will enter training camp with a largely clean bill of health as a team, let’s take a peak at some of the players who may be dealing with injury issues, keeping in mind that no official word from the team on their status is required at this time of the year.
Mankins continues to recover from ACL surgery conducted after the 2011 season. While his timetable remains a little bit unclear, he has expressed a desire to return for training camp. Wes Welker showed leading into the 2010 season that the recovery time from such a surgery is entirely dependent upon the individual. Mankins had surgery in the weeks following the Super Bowl, and if he’s a quick healer, could be 100% by Week 1 – or sooner.
Gronkowski’s ankle injury suffered in the AFC Championship game against Baltimore is no secret, and he’s effectively on the mend at this point of the offseason. There are no indications that the injury will prevent Gronk from participating in training camp, although it would seem possible that the team will consider limiting his workload from time-to-time. This is a situation to monitor, but not one that sounds like cause for concern.
Spikes dealt with a right knee injury during the latter portion of the 2011 season, and had surgery to address the issue earlier this offseason. Lump this one into the same category as Gronk, as Spikes appears like a safe bet to be on the field for training camp, but the team may choose to curtail his workload as a precautionary measure.
The massive right tackle was limited in 2011, in part because of an ankle injury that required surgery. As was noted yesterday on the site, he’s been held out of OTA’s as a precautionary measure to rest the ankle (as originally mentioned by Greg Bedard in the Boston Globe).
Fells has not been present from the media accessible OTA’s, and the Boston Herald reported it’s for a minor injury issue. It’s possible that it involves the ankle injury that limited him in the week of practice leading up to the Patriots and Broncos (Fells played in Denver last season) Divisional Round playoff matchup.
We’ve seen Slater working on the sidelines with members of the Patriots training staff during OTA’s, an obvious indication that he’s dealing with something. The nature of the injury is not known at this time, although he appeared healthy at the end of the 2011 season. Without knowing much, it’s difficult to gauge the severity of this one.
Ebner was limited during the rookie mini-camp with what was believed to be a quad injury, although he has since returned to the field. This one sounds like a thing of the past.
Pryor was not spotted at the most recent OTA, and spent much of the 2011 season on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury. There’s been no official word on his absence, although it seems possible that Pryor may still be recovering, or could be missing out on the sessions in order to rehab.
White is reportedly recovering from sports hernia surgery, although he is expected back on the field for training camp (via the Boston Herald). White didn’t show the ill effects of the injury during the 2011 season, when he was an effective special teamer for the Patriots.
Zusevics, an undrafted rookie from Iowa, made headlines during the NFL Combine when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle on the bench press. It hurt his stock, but he now has a chance to pave his way into the NFL from the undrafted rookie platform. He has not been participating in OTA’s, although he has been spotted on the field with his teammates as an onlooker.
Again, this list should be considered a reference and not a definitive statement on where each of the players stands with their injuries. It won’t be until the regular season when the team is required to pass along official word on the status of each, and for now we are left to use educated guesses.