Patriots' defensive lineman Mike Wright is a fan favorite. He possesses great size at 6-4, 295 lbs, he has versatility as a 3-4 defensive end, defensive tackle, nose tackle, and 4-3 defensive end, he has speed and power as one of the Patriots' most consistent pass rushers, and is one of the great underdog stories as an undrafted free agent out of college. It's hard not to root for the guy. I know that I've given him a lot of grief in the past because he's not very strong against the run- but the fact that he'd show up every game and try his best to perform any task designated to him is commendable.
Unfortunately, Mike Wright was forced to miss the end of last season (the final six regular season games) due to a concussion and was placed on the injured reserve. Most concussions hold a player out for a week or two, which meant that Wright's concussion was serious. Rumors were swirling that Wright was a concussion or two away from being forced out of the game. He recovered over the long off-season and appeared primed to be a contributing member of the defense. He played two of the first three series against the Dolphins on Monday night and registered a quarterback pressure.
Sadly, Wright was taken off the field and had his helmet taken away. It could be for the last time. He went helmet to helmet with rookie Mike Pouncey and it was hard enough that the trainers ended his game. Now, it appears as if Wright has sustained another concussion. Due to his prior head injuries, this could be the end of the line for Wright.
Wright has done a great job with the Patriots and has been one of Bill Belichicks best undrafted pick-ups. I don't think many would argue against that. Hopefully he'll have a speedy recovery, but, for his sake, I hope he doesn't put football ahead of his personal health. If this concussion signifies that the end is near, I hope that Wright makes the decision to hang up his cleats and live a healthier life.
Of course, I have to do some analysis on how this relates to the team. The Patriots are in fair shape on the defensive line with plenty of depth. The emergence of Myron Pryor has made the loss of Wright easier to take and the combination of Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Love, and Pryor allows the Patriots to not worry as much about the defensive line.
The return of Jermaine Cunningham could help if he backs up Shaun Ellis as a defensive end. The Patriots should be fine if Wright is actually done for the season and it would allow the Patriots to have a spare roster spot for when Ron Brace or Brandon Deaderick returns from the PUP list.