The New England Patriots have never shied away from taking a swing on a talented player coming off of injury. Their third-round selection in this year’s draft is the latest example: Sacramento State safety Marte Mapu, who was brought in with the 76th overall pick.
Mapu missed most of the pre-draft cycle because of a torn pectoral muscle suffered in February while bench-pressing. The injury required surgery, but the 23-year-old said on Friday during an introductory Zoom call with the New England media that he expects to be ready for training camp.
“I will be working with the team. Right now, it’s feeling good,” Mapu told reporrters. “I’ll be ready by training camp at the latest. But right now, I’m feeling good. We’ll see what that process looks like with the team. But I know I’ll be healthy, and when I’m healthy, I’m ready to go.”
A third straight defender drafted by the team, Mapu arrives in New England after a six-year career with the Hornets. He played primarily a rotational role early on in his career, but post-2020 season cancellation he took over as a starter.
Mapu started his next 25 games and laid the foundation for becoming a high NFL draft pick. Playing in a hybrid safety/linebacker position, he registered six interceptions over that span as well as 141 tackles. The6-foot-3, 221-pounder was named the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year for his performance in 2022.
His performance prompted the Patriots to bring him aboard on Day 2 of the draft, despite the injury concern. And as head coach Bill Belichick pointed out, that is not as big an issue as it might seem like.
“We’ll know a little bit more when he gets in here and starts working,” Belichick said about the youngster’s injury status. “We’ve had other players — Marcus Jones last year, for example, wasn’t able to do everything, but was ready to participate in training camp. Whether he’s on that schedule, ahead of that schedule, I don’t know. Probably somewhere in that neighborhood.
“But we’ll spend more time with him when he gets here. When he’s healthy and ready to go, then we’ll start to put him into the main stream of our training and eventually put him on the field. But he has to get healthy first. We know we’re not quite there yet, but hopefully that’ll clear up.”