One of the biggest aspects of constructing a roster during the NFL offseason is getting previously injured players back to full strength, either by having them take some time off or by seeing them undergo surgery during the slowest time on the calendar. Among the latter group this year is New England Patriots special teamer Justin Bethel: according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, Bethel is currently recovering from offseason shoulder injury.
Bethel is in his first offseason in New England after joining the team midway through the 2019 regular season. The Baltimore Ravens parted ways with him in late October, which in turn allowed the Patriots to pick him up. New England signed Bethel to a two-year deal and he quickly became an impact player in the kicking game: appearing in 10 games, the veteran special teamer registered six tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Given his success during his first half-season with the Patriots and the fact that the team is entering the new season with some questions surrounding its kick coverage teams — both Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner are free agents, while Brandon King is coming off a season-long stint on injured reserve (although he is on his way to be ready for offseason workouts) — Bethel is again projected to play a considerable role on special teams in 2020.
His reported surgery, however, may impact his offseason timeline and puts his availability for organized team activities in question. Once fully healthy again, though, the 29-year-old is once more expected to be a valuable and experienced piece of New England’s kicking game operation.