After spending the beginning of training camp on the physically unable to perform list, New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins has finally begun participating in team practice this week. Mankins and fellow starting offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer have been on the sidelines since training camp began. This is good news for a team that has dealt with players going down at a rapid pace.
The Patriots 2012 offseason began with the retirement of long-time starting center Matt Light. After Light’s decision, guard Brian Waters announced that he was attempting to make a similar decision and has yet to report to Patriots training camp. In addition to the absence of those three players, the Patriots have had several players coming on and off the field due to injury.
The last week of practice starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes sat out with an injury. Along with Spikes, the Patriots new star receiver Brandon Lloyd has also sat out with an injury. While Spikes has returned to the playing field, star tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez both were off the field Monday and working with the team’s medical staff. During the Patriots first preseason game this weekend, the Patriots suffered a major blow when linebacker Dane Fletcher suffered a knee injury adding to the list of Patriots on the shelf.
While the injury list continues to pile up, the team is also having several players attempting to come back from injuries suffered last season. Notable injuries from last season include Dan Koppen, Ras-I Dowling, and Devin McCourty. Koppen, a likely replacement for Light at starting center, fractured his ankle early last season and spent almost the entire season on injured reserve. Selected during the 2011 NFL Draft in a rebuilding attempt for the team’s weak defensive secondary, Dowling was injured in just his second game which forced him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. McCourty, a 2010 first round pick, was All-Pro in his rookie season but suffered a separated shoulder in November.
While injuries still continue to be a problem for the Patriots, Mankins is the first good news in a while on the injury front. The team is still one of the favorites to make a Super Bowl appearance going into the 2012 season. If they can manage to keep players on the field while having some of those injured return, those chances should increase dramatically. Hopefully for the Patriots sake, Mankins return will start a new trend of healing.