ESPN’s Mike Reiss has a pair of injury updates for the New England Patriots in his Sunday column, which is always worth reading. Both RB Dion Lewis and OG Tre Jackson could be close to a return as players on the physically unable to perform list are eligible to return to practice after this Sunday’s game.
“[Lewis has] made positive progress from a second surgery on his left knee to the point that ‘it’s possible’ he could begin practicing this week,” Reiss notes. “At the same time, given the setback Lewis had with his rehab in the spring (it wasn’t specifically his ACL, but a different part of the knee), the likelihood is that coach Bill Belichick is going to be cautious with him, so it would be no surprise if Lewis isn’t playing in a game until after the early November bye week.”
The emergence, or at least the consistency, of RB James White has allowed the Patriots to take a more reserved approach towards Lewis’ return. Lewis is head-and-shoulders above White (and most backs in the NFL) when both are fully healthy, but White is proving to more-than-adequate while Lewis recovers. There’s no need to rush Lewis back until he’s ready.
Reiss also notes that Jackson’s health could have been linked to the release of OG Jonathan Cooper.
“In recent weeks, the 2015 fourth-round pick out of Florida State [Tre Jackson] has been seen loosening up with teammates at practice before departing for more rehab-based work, and his expected return probably contributed to the Patriots’ decision to release guard Jonathan Cooper last week” Reiss writes. “I’m told Jackson feels ready to practice and it’s just a matter of the Patriots giving him the green light.”
Reiss adds that the Patriots have 8 offensive linemen on the active roster, “the lowest total in the NFL,” so the return of Jackson was likely expected. It also speaks volumes towards how the Patriots viewed the comparative potential of Cooper and Jackson.
Reiss also reports that the Patriots had given a quartet of practice squad players a pay increase. RB Bishop Sankey and OG Chris Barker earned “raises of $52,700”, while ED Geneo Grissom and DT Anthony Johnson received the same pay raise and were promoted to the active roster.
The Patriots like to give these pay increases because teams around the league love to poach players from New England. This provides incentive to stay and it rewards some of the veterans- like Sankey and Barker- that have multiple years in the NFL.
Reiss also covers Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell, Elandon Roberts, and changes to the Patriots practice schedule. Read it now!