BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Rob Gronkowski’s concussion has been the lead story of Super Bowl week thus far, but the tight end wasn’t the only New England Patriots player recovering from a head injury.
Rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. also suffered a concussion during the AFC Championship Game. He missed two practices and was limited in two others before being cleared Thursday.
“If I had to play (last) Sunday, I probably wouldn’t have played,” Wise told NESN.com after fully participating in Thursday’s practice. “So I’m happy that it happened when it happened and then we had those two weeks off so I could recover.”
Unlike Gronkowski, who was removed from the AFC title game after being leveled by Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church, Wise did not realize until days later that he had suffered a significant injury. He was slow to get up after being driven into the ground by Jaguars tackle Cam Robinson late in the second quarter but was able to finish the game and even took part in the postgame celebration.
It wasn’t until two days later that he discovered something was off.
“I felt a little something during the game, but I knew it wasn’t much,” Wise recalled. “The next day, I didn’t feel anything. Mostly, I felt it when I started to run and exercise, so that following Tuesday. We started running, and that’s when I kind of felt something. That’s when they sat me down and talked to me.”
That talk was enlightening for the 23-year-old, who also missed time with a concussion during the preseason. He learned he was putting himself in dangerous positions too often — both concussions came while he was either on or falling to the ground.
“I’m not going to say it’s scary, but I just know (now) that the concussions that I had could have been prevented,” Wise said. “So I just know what I need to do to prevent them. It’s kind of one of those things where you do everything possible to prevent it, and hopefully, it never happens again.”
“Stay off the ground, pretty much,” he said. “If I can stay off the ground, then I’ll be good. That’s how the last two happened, so I tell myself to use my hands a little bit more and stay on your feet. Then, hopefully, the risk goes down.”
Wise, who ranked third on the Patriots in sacks and second in quarterback hits during the regular season, has been given a clean bill of health and is expected to play Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
“I knew I would be here at some point in my career,” the fourth-round draft pick said. “I just didn’t know it would be this soon. I’m very excited, and it’s kind of a surreal feeling. But I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
Gronkowski also cleared concussion protocol Thursday and said he will be “full go” for Sunday.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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