It seemed as if everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Yodny Cajuste during his first two seasons in the NFL. Injuries forced him to miss both of them, and instead of him turning into a valuable member of the New England Patriots’ offensive line have forced him onto the roster bubble in 2021.
And yet, the simple fact that he is back to compete for a spot on the team has been a positive development — one that was praised by fellow offensive lineman David Andrews.
“Super happy for Yod,” Andrews said following the Patriots’ joint practice with the New York Giants on Wednesday. “He’s been here a while. He’s kind of a vet. He’s an older guy to some extent, but he hasn’t played a lot. None of that’s his fault, it just kind of is what it is. To see him work through this — you know the guy’s really worked so hard — it’s inspiring to see.”
When Cajuste entered the league as a third-round draft selection by the New England Patriots in 2019, he was rehabbing from a quad injury that forced him to undergo surgery and eventually be sent to the non-football injury list. He never returned and subsequently had to spend his entire rookie campaign on the sidelines.
He made his comeback the following year after being unable to participate in offseason workouts due to the league’s Coronavirus protocols. While he did participate in training camp for a change, he was unable to play in any games yet again. Cajuste made the 53-man squad but he was sent to injured reserve due to a knee issue. He was eligible to be reactivated after three weeks. He wasn’t.
This summer, Cajuste therefore appears to be competing for his roster life — and seemingly doing everything in his power to show the Patriots’ coaching staff that he belongs.
He has not missed a single practice and also saw action in both of the team’s preseason games. While it remains to be seen whether or not his efforts will allow him to make the team again, the mere fact that he is competing speaks for the 25-year-old, according to Andrews.
“It says a lot about his mental toughness to keep coming back, keep working, to get as healthy as he can and to go through the things he did,” he said. “And then he’s starting to put it together, so he has to feel pretty good about that, seeing the fruits of his labor. We all have a lot of work going on, but him being out here says a lot about him and how much he’s worked through it. I have a lot of respect for Yodny.”
Cajuste started slowly into his second training camp and first ever preseason, but he has built some momentum lately and could be a candidate for the fourth offensive tackle gig behind Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown and Justin Herron. For a player with his injury history that alone is an accomplishment.