After years of being led by the formidable pairing of Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung, the New England Patriots’ safety position has entered a phase of transition. Chung announced his retirement earlier this offseason; McCourty will turn 34 in August and is heading into the final year of his contract; Adrian Phillips was added last offseason but is also scheduled to become a free agent next spring; Kyle Dugger was drafted in the second round in 2020.
Before this year’s draft, Dugger was the only viable long-term option on the roster. New England did add another player to the mix who might be in the running for a spot on the safety depth chart, though: the Patriots selected Missouri’s Joshuah Bledsoe in the sixth round. Bledsoe is no lock to make the team given his draft status, but he does have some tools to work with and the necessary durability to carve out a role.
With that said, let’s take a look at his injury history and find out what it means from the Patriots’ perspective.
2018 (Missouri): Bledsoe’s junior season started with him appearing in the season opener against UT Martin, but he was absent from practice all week after the game leading to his inactivity in Week 2. No injury was ever announced, though, and he was back on the field one week later.
2021 (Senior Bowl): Coming off a successful 2020 campaign with the Tigers, Bledsoe was invited to the Senior Bowl. He participated in practice throughout the week and registered a tackle during the actual game, but apparently also hurt his wrist along the way. As a result of the injury, he was unable to participate in his Pro Day workouts in mid-April.
What this means for the Patriots
Even though he is entering the NFL off the aforementioned wrist ailment suffered during the pre-draft process, Bledsoe’s injury history is a short and uneventful one. New England therefore has little to worry about when it comes to his physical readiness as he is trying to carve out a role in the team’s safety group.
Due to him maneuvering through his high school and college careers without any reported injuries, the rookie also brings plenty of experience to the table. Playing against SEC competition, Bledsoe appeared in 46 games over his four-year stint at Missouri and spent his final two seasons as the school’s starting free safety. Despite his youth, he has plenty of high-quality football on his résumé.