It’s been a long road back for Patriots rookie Joshuah Bledsoe — longer than we’d realized.
The Missouri safety, taken by New England in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, missed all of training camp and preseason while recovering from a broken wrist he suffered in the Senior Bowl. Bledsoe began the regular season on the non-football injury list and was an afterthought over the first two-plus months of the campaign.
But the 22-year-old surprisingly returned to practice Nov. 23 and immediately impressed his teammates and coaches. In fact, Bledsoe was so impressive that he was activated off the NFI list and added to the Patriots’ 53-man roster last week, a clear indication of the coaches’ confidence in his ability to provide quality safety depth.
Patriots safeties coach Brian Belichick on Tuesday praised Bledsoe while also revealing previously unknown details about his injury recovery.
“It’s been a long, long road since he got here,” Belichick said. “He had two wrist surgeries in 2021. So, he’s had a lot of recovery, which, you know, can be a difficult position as a rookie, especially when you’re trying to learn a defense where you don’t get to be able to go on the field and practice it in person. So, it really forces you to be engaged in the classroom and trying to get mental reps, you know, trying to take yourself through the film. So, he’s been in the meetings all year and he’s been staying engaged. I’ve tried to keep him learning it because I knew at some point he’d be back and would get out there.
“And, fortunately, he stayed on it enough so that when he did get out there, he played fast and he showed that he could hang out there. And that was encouraging. It’s been a pleasure to work with him. He’s been showing up every day, no excuses about having to rehab and all that stuff. He’s worked and hard and he’s stayed after it. And it’s good that he’s been back on the practice field the last couple weeks. So, nice to have him out there.”
Whether Bledsoe will make any gameday impact this season remains to be seen. It likely would take an injury to Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty or Adrian Phillips for him to see any significant playing time.
But it’s clear that Bledsoe has put in the work to overcome unforeseen obstacles this year, which only will help him next season — if not sooner.