Last month, reports broke that New England Patriots special teamer Justin Bethel was currently recovering from shoulder surgery — one of multiple members of the team’s 2019 roster to go under the knife this offseason. However, the recent Coronavirus pandemic has complicated his rehabilitation process as the 29-year-old acknowledged during a recent radio interview on Sirius XM NFL’s The End Zone.
“It’s definitely a tough situation,” Bethel told hosts Alex Marvez and Vic Carucci when speaking about his recovery from surgery in light of the fast-spreading virus (transcript via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss). “This is a time where you’re trying to get back full strength and you’re trying to get prepared for the season with all this social distancing, stay-at-home quarantine stuff going on.”
“When I first left, they gave me a sheet of stuff to do — exercise, stretches. Pretty much you have to do it on your own. If you can find a clinic that’s open that will help you out, you can do it,” continued Bethel. “But even with that, you have to be very careful. Really, you just have to get it done however you can, and pray for the best.”
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 — Nate Ebner left New England as an unrestricted free agent, 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.