Despite having lost coach Joe Judge during the offseason the New England Patriots’ special teams unit was arguably the best in football last year. The team therefore made sure to keep the unit mostly intact in free agency: core coverage players Justin Bethel and Cody Davis were both retained on multi-year deals, while kicker Nick Folk also re-signed via a one-year pact.
Those moves were not the only special teams-related transactions made by the Patriots last month, though. New England also brought a linebacker aboard, who has made a living out of showing up in the game’s third phase. Whether or not LaRoy Reynolds can carve out a role with the Patriots as well remains to be seen, but he certainly brings considerable experience to the table — and some solid durability as well.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at his medical history to find out what it all means from New England’s perspective.
2012 (Virginia): During his senior campaign at Virginia, Reynolds was forced to miss two-and-a-half games due to injury. He broke his wrist versus Georgia Tech and had to sit out the two ensuing games versus TCU and Louisiana Tech. Despite wearing a cast, he did make 11 tackles in his return against Duke.
2014 (Jaguars): After an injury-free rookie season, Reynolds was listed as questionable on Jacksonville’s injury report in late November due to a neck issue. While he did play in both games against the New York Giants and Houston Texans, he did see a reduced workload on special teams.
2015 (Bears/Jaguars): Reynolds hurt the MCL in his left knee during the Jaguars’ second preseason game. While the injury limited him for the remainder of training camp, he was able to play in the regular season opener after being tagged with the “probable” label heading into that weekend.
After leaving Jacksonville for Chicago early during the season, Reynolds again dealt with a knee ailment. He was listed as probable ahead of an early November game versus San Diego, and despite already being removed from the list at that point played only five snaps versus the Denver Broncos two weeks later. No injury was announced during that contest, but he was back on the practice report leading into the following week: Reynolds was questionable to play against the Green Bay Packers. He ended up playing 62 percent of special teams snaps, though.
2017 (Falcons): After having played just two snaps during the Falcons’ third preseason game, Reynolds had to leave the field because of a shoulder injury.
The week after that game, he was dealing with a chest injury that forced him to be limited in practice and eventually sit out the preseason finale.
After that missed game, Atlanta sent Reynolds to injured reserve — not due to his chest, though, but because of a pectoral injury. He had to sit out the first seven games of the Falcons’ season before being activated again and resuming his role as a core special teams presence and emergency depth linebacker.
Ahead of the Falcons’ playoff game in Philadelphia in early January, Reynolds again made an appearance on the team’s injury report. He was dealing with a knee issue but eventually able to participate in the season-ending contest. Reynolds played 73 percent of special teams snaps that day.
What this means for the Patriots
Even though there are eight different entries on his injury résumé, Reynolds has proven himself a durable player going all the way back to his college days. In total, he missed only seven games due to injury over the course of his career as a pro (he also missed four more because of a suspension in 2013) and was generally available despite some minor ailments.
New England should therefore not be worried about any injury issues when it comes to the 30-year-old. While freak accidents can always happen in a full-contact sport, Reynolds’ medical history is not a concerning one from this point of view.