The New England Patriots registered their first road victory of the season on Sunday, when they defeated the Chicago Bears 38-31. Early during the contest, however, running back Sony Michel was lost to a serious-looking injury: the rookie, who was coming off a phenomenal three-game stretch, stayed on the ground after hurting his knee on a tackle and later had to be carted to the locker room.
As grave as the injury appeared to be, initial reports coming out of New England were positive. An MRI done on Monday revealed no structural damage to Michel’s knee and the Patriots’ first round draft pick was consequently considered to be week-to-week. Now, a new report by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride created a more concrete timeline for the recovery: Michel may only “miss a week or two” with the injury and could therefore be back on the field before New England’s week 11 bye.
While this timetable would allow Michel to return as soon as week 9 against the Green Bay Packers, it would still not be a surprise to see the team hold out or at least limit its number one back until after the bye week. While New England lacks depth at the position, it will likely not rush Michel – a player that has a history of knee issues and was forced to miss all of preseason and the regular season opener due to injury – back.
According to McBride, another Patriot also has a realistic chance to return soon: tight end Rob Gronkowski. After experiencing back spasms last week and subsequently missing New England’s game in Chicago, the 29-year old could return as early as next Monday night against his hometown Buffalo Bills – a team against which he has been enormously successful in the past: in 13 games, Gronkowski recorded 66 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Considering that his contract – one that was restructured in late August – includes multiple playing time and performance incentives, the tight end would have added motivation to return to the field soon. Then again, the Patriots will likely play it safe again with the big-picture in mind and try to limit an overexposure to hits until Gronkowski is as close to 100% as is possible at this point in the season.