The New England Patriots invested considerable resources in their interior defensive line in free agency. Not only did the team re-sign Lawrence Guy, Deatrich Wise Jr. and Carl Davis, it also brought three players on board from outside the organization: Davon Godchaux, Montravius Adams and Henry Anderson.
The latter signed a two-year, $7 million pact with the Patriots, joining the team after stints with the Indianapolis Colts (2015-17) and New York Jets (2018-20). During his time with those two teams, he proved himself a stout run defender with some upside versus the pass as well. However, his full potential was only partially on display, as injuries repeatedly forced Anderson to miss time.
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.
2007 (Woodward Academy): Anderson suffered his first major injury at Woodward Academy southwest of Atlanta. Despite tearing the ACL in his right knee as a sophomore, though, he finished his high school career strong and eventually earned scholarship offers from schools such as Clemson, Maryland and Stanford.
2013 (Stanford): Anderson’s sophomore campaign at Stanford did not end because of injury, but he still missed time after hurting the MCL in his left knee in September. He had to sit out six games because of the sprain before returning down the stretch and even being named an honorable mention for the All-Pac-12 team.
2015 (Colts): Dealing with a pectoral injury during the pre-draft process, Anderson was unable to participate in the bench press during the NFL Scouting Combine. The issue did not bother him at a later point, though.
Leading up to the Colts’ Week 5 game in Houston, Anderson was listed as questionable on the practice report because of a foot injury. He was able to suit up on game day, however, and eventually finished with four tackles on 47 of a possible 76 defensive snaps.
Anderson’s encouraging rookie season came to an end in November when he tore the ACL in his right knee — the second time in his career he suffered that same exact injury. While he later noted his knee felt better during the rehabilitation process than it did in high school, he still had to miss considerable time the following year due to the injury.
2016 (Colts): Fighting his way back from the ACL injury that prematurely ended his rookie campaign, Anderson was placed on Indianapolis’ physically unable to perform list ahead of training camp. He was eventually activated again in late August, but still had to sit out the first two games of the season.
Later that same year, he had to miss even more time due to another knee injury unrelated to the twice-torn ACL: Anderson hurt his left knee in late October and was forced to spend three of the Colts’ games on the sidelines.
2017 (Colts): Anderson’s third year in the NFL started well, but it again ended early due to injury: he fractured his larynx during an early-November contest in Houston. The freak accident later forced the Colts to send Anderson to injured reserve for a second time in three seasons.
2019 (Jets): After getting traded to the Jets in 2018, Anderson played the first full 16-game season of his career. The following year, however, he again had to miss time because of an injury. He sprained the AC joint in his shoulder and was sidelined for three games. The ailment followed Anderson throughout the season, as he was listed on New York’s injury report in 12 of the final 13 weeks of the year.
What this means for the Patriots
When the Patriots signed Anderson to a two-year contract in mid-March, they included only $3 million in guarantees — a relatively small number reflective of his age and injury history: the 29-year-old, as can be seen, has dealt with his fair share of medical issues over the course of his career.
His knee injuries may be the most noteworthy ones among them. Anderson tore the ACL in his right knee twice, and also dealt with sprains in his left knee on two separate occasions. While those could be seen as a red flag, it should be pointed out that he has played the last four seasons without suffering a similar injury. Since then, the only other reported ailments were a rare laryngeal fracture as well as the nagging shoulder issue in 2019.
None of those injuries say anything about Anderson’s projected availability for the 2021 season, though. And given that he is coming off a year without any practice or playing time missed because of listed issues, the Patriots can feel good about his outlook and the deal they signed him to.