After a day off on Monday, the New England Patriots returned to the practice fields yesterday for what turned out to be an eventful session. The moment gathering the most headlines undoubtably was the fight between wide receiver Julian Edelman and cornerback Stephon Gilmore which led to both players being tossed from the session. However, it was far from the only noteworthy development.
Two players, linebacker Elandon Roberts and tight end James O’Shaughnessy, suffered injuries during yesterday’s practice. And at least one of those – Roberts' – is not considered to be serious, according to Boston Sports Journal's Christopher Price.
Roberts went down early during yesterday's session with a non-contact injury after playing in coverage. When he tried to get up, he could not and the medical staff as well as head athletic trainer Jim Whalen were taking a closer look at him. Eventually, Roberts was able to walk off under his own power and after re-taping his ankle even returned to the session. Seeing him return was obviously a good sign.
Price's report from earlier today now confirms this. With Dont'a Hightower still on the physically unable to perform list, Roberts suddenly becomes a top option on the interior of the defense – not just because he sees regular practice reps as the defensive signal caller: He is one of three players best suited to back up Hightower and play alongside him on early downs.
Losing Roberts for an extended period of time would therefore have hurt the Patriots' depth at the position and put additional pressure on a newcomer (David Harris) and a player returning form injured reserve (Jonathan Freeny). Luckily, however, it seems as if New England and the second-year man have been able to dodge a bullet.