Sony Michel’s rehab could sideline him into the regular season.
The New England Patriots are unsure if Michel, who underwent foot surgery this offseason, will be healthy by Week 1, according to a report Tuesday from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe.
“Nearly a month before the Patriots’ season opener against the Dolphins, it’s still no sure thing Michel will be ready in time, according to a source,” Howe wrote. “There’s such an uncertain nature in the recovery from any foot surgery that it can be a challenge to predict a defined timeline. But right now, Michel is not on the doorstep.”
With that outlook, it sounds very likely Michel, who currently is on the active/physically unable to perform list, will miss at least part of Patriots training camp, which begins in earnest next Monday with the team’s first padded practice. The Patriots are set to hold their first non-padded practice Wednesday after 1 1/2 weeks of strength training, conditioning and walkthroughs.
No Michel would create additional opportunities for 2019 third-round draft pick Damien Harris and veteran newcomer Lamar Miller, assuming Miller passes his physical after agreeing to terms Monday on a one-year Patriots contract.
Miller has been a productive dual-threat back throughout his NFL career, surpassing 870 rushing yards and 25 receptions in five consecutive seasons before sitting out last year with a torn ACL. The 29-year-old was a first-time Pro Bowler with the Houston Texans in 2018, totaling 973 rushing yards (4.6 per carry) and five touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 163 yards and one score in 14 games.
Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears recently shared a glowing review of Harris, who logged just four garbage-time touches as a rookie last season.
“I think you’re going to like what you see,” Fears said of the Alabama product last week. “And I think combining him with the other SEC runner that we have in Sony, you have a hell of a pack there.”
Michel, the 31st overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, played in every game for the Patriots last season, leading the team in rushing (912 yards) for the second straight year. His yards-per-carry average dropped from 4.5 to 3.7, though, and he’s now missed time due to injury in each of his first three NFL offseasons. Knee ailments sidelined Michel last summer and during his rookie year.
Third-down back James White, the versatile but injury-prone Rex Burkhead and 5-foot-5 undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor round out New England’s running back room. Brandon Bolden opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.