When reporters were allowed to watch the New England Patriots practice for the first time this offseason, one of the players not spotted during the voluntary session on May 23 was running back Sony Michel. The second-year man was also not on the field for the three mandatory minicamp workouts that took place one week later. Now, we know why he was absent during the four practices open to the media: his knee.
According to a report by The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Michel recently underwent a knee arthroscopy and missed the final portion of the Patriots’ offseason workouts because of it — the only time he was spotted was during the team’s Super Bowl celebration that took place last Thursday. Due to the comparatively minor nature of the procedure, the 24-year-old is expected to be ready when New England opens its training camp in late July.
This is not the first time Michel’s knee forced him to miss time. Early during last year’s training camp, his first since entering the NFL as a first-round draft pick by the Patriots, he hurt his knee and was forced to miss the entire preseason as well as opening week because of it. In week seven of the regular season, Michel suffered another injury to the same knee and had to sit out New England’s next two contests.
He did eventually return, however, and quickly reestablished himself as a key cog in the Patriots’ offensive machinery: after New England’s week eleven bye and through the playoffs, the rookie carried the football 174 times for a combined 814 yards and 8 touchdowns. With Michel expected to play a major role in the Patriots’ attack again in 2019, the team will have to hope that he can bounce back equally strong from the latest issue with his knee.
Until such a return happens, the club will likely turn to 2019’s third-round draft pick Damien Harris to carry the load: the rookie, who was drafted 87th overall by New England this April, saw considerable practice reps with Michel absent. He could very well take on a bigger role in case the top option misses some time during training camp and the preseason, or if the Patriots want to manage Michel’s workload early during the regular season.