The countdown to training camp continues, with the Patriots scheduled to practice for the first time as a team on Friday outside of Gillette Stadium.
As the on-field work draws nearer, it’s a natural time to assess the injury issues that the Patriots are dealing with to open camp. The team is not obligated to pass along injury information at this time of the year, thus making this an overview of the best information that we have to this point.
When camp officially begins, we’ll have a better feel for the status of the following players:
WR Kamar Aiken. The third-year receiver, who earned some first-unit repetitions in spring camps, missed the final two days of mandatory minicamp for what appeared to be a precaution. It would be a surprise if that holds him back at the start of training camp.
TE Jake Ballard. The big tight end (6-6, 275) suffered a major knee injury back in February 2012, but will have had nearly 18 months to rehab when camp begins. He participated in offseason work but was slightly limited. He went down to the ground at one point during an on-field session, but it appears that he remains on course with his rehab. Given the severity of the injury, the team may opt to ease Ballard in during camp, with the PUP list a likely option.
RB Brandon Bolden. The second-year running back was unable to run for much of this offseason due to a sprained ankle, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Bolden is hoping to be ready for the start of camp, Schefter reports.
WR Josh Boyce. The fourth-round draft pick had a foot issue (reportedly a broken toe suffered during pre-draft training), so it was no surprise that he was limited this offseason. If he’s healthy enough to participate to open camp, he’ll likely compete for reps given the wide-open nature of the wide receiver position.
C/G Dan Connolly. The veteran lineman underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, and though he was on the field for most of the OTAs/minicamp, he worked off to the side (typically next to fellow lineman Sebastian Vollmer). His availability for the start of camp is TBD.
S Kanorris Davis. Davis was withheld from the final media accessible on-field activities with an unknown injury. His status for training camp is unknown.
CB Alfonzo Dennard. The second-year starter, who has a hearing on July 31 relating to his recent arrest, left the field during an OTA with a left shoulder injury. Like Devin McCourty, he was limited in later practices following the injury.
WR Aaron Dobson. The second-round pick was limited during the final offseason workout, but the specifics of why are not clear. It doesn’t appear that he is dealing with anything major, and the expectation is he’s a good bet to be on the field to open camp.
S Nate Ebner. The second-year safety was limited throughout the offseason with an unknown issue. He dealt with a hamstring issue late during the 2012 regular season.
WR Julian Edelman. A foot issue kept Edelman off the field during offseason activities. The injury initially occurred during Week 13 of last season, forcing Edelman onto IR. He underwent "clean-up" surgery on the foot again this offseason, preventing him from participating in the latest on-field activities. No guarantee that he'll be ready for Friday.
TE Rob Gronkowski. No Patriot has been in the news more for injury issues this offseason than Gronkowski, who is currently recovering from a late June back procedure and a fourth surgery on his left forearm. The back surgery typically requires a 12-week recovery period, making it a certainty that Gronkowski will not be on the field when camp opens. It is also in question if he will be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 at Buffalo.
WR Mark Harrison. Another rookie wide receiver dealing with a foot issue, Harrison was relegated to mostly riding the stationary bike during offseason workouts. An intriguing player given his frame (6-3, 230) and speed, Harrison’s status for the start of camp is unknown.
DB Devin McCourty. The safety underwent a right shoulder procedure this offseason, which kept him from doing much during the on-field sessions. He was in uniform for OTAs and minicamp, but worked off to the side with trainers. Though it is not known whether McCourty will be on the field to start camp -- the projection when he had the surgery was that he would be ready -- it seems likely that he wouldn't miss much time and should be back to full strength for the start of the season.
OL Nick McDonald. McDonald missed much of the on-field offseason work with an unspecified injury. The versatile offensive lineman’s status camp is not known.
OT Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer underwent knee surgery in the days before free agency opened, and was limited throughout on-field work. He dealt with back and an ankle issue last offseason, but played and started in 15 regular season games. No word on if he’ll be limited at all during training camp. Vollmer’s new contract with the Patriots includes extensive playing-time incentives, which are tied to his recent health concerns.