Sony Michel

Patriots Place Sony Michel, Shaq Mason, Derek Rivers On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Just as the Patriots took their two highest-profile players off the reserve/COVID-19 list, they placed three more players on it. Sony Michel, Shaq Mason and Derek Rivers landed on the list Saturday, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Michel has tested positive, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Mason and Rivers have not. Although Michel was on New England’s IR list, this is certainly a situation to monitor for the league. The NFL moved the Patriots’ Week 4 game to Monday after Cam Newton‘s positive test surfaced the previous Saturday and postponed the Denver-New England Week 5 game to the following Monday and then, after another Pats positive test emerged Sunday morning, delayed it another week.

Players do not have to test positive for the coronavirus to be placed on teams’ COVID lists; they can land on there if they are deemed close contacts of someone who has tested positive. The Pats took Newton and Stephon Gilmore off their list this week but still have multiple players on it. James Ferentz and defensive end Byron Cowart were already on New England’s COVID list.

Approaching 4pm CT Saturday, the Pats’ Week 6 game against the Broncos remains scheduled for noon Sunday. The NFL was aware of the team’s impending Saturday adjustment to its COVID list, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, the Pats did not resume practice until Thursday — after their game against the Broncos was moved off its Monday date — and canceled their in-person workouts Friday because of another positive test.

Michel has been on New England’s IR list since before their Week 4 game against the Chiefs; Mason missed Week 4 and was questionable for Week 6. The Pats will be down Mason and Ferentz from their starting O-line on Sunday, should the game remain scheduled. Rivers has played 21% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps this season; the defensive end has 1.5 sacks.

To help with depth, the Pats have elevated tackle Caleb Benenoch, tight end Rashod Berry, defensive end Nick Thurman and wide receiver Isaiah Zuber from their practice squad to their active roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Place Sony Michel On IR, Activate Damien Harris

The Patriots are doing some major shuffling with their backfield. New England is placing running back Sony Michel on injured reserve and activating fellow running back Damien Harris off IR, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team also activated receiver Gunner Olszewski and placed safety Cody Davis on injured reserve.

With the new rules this year, Michel will have to miss at least three games before returning. It’s a bummer for Michel since he was coming off by far his best game of the season, when he rushed for 117 yards on only nine carries against the Raiders. He had been a disappointment through the first couple of weeks, and will now be hitting the shelf. Fortunately, Rapoport noted in a follow-up tweet that he was told Michel could be activated relatively quickly and it’s not a season-ending injury.

A third-round pick last year, Harris barely played as a rookie and was a healthy scratch most weeks. He reportedly had a strong summer though, and was looking like he might be the Patriots’ starter to open the year before a hand injury sent him to IR. Now he’s back and figures to be in the mix tonight against Kansas City, although with James White and Rex Burkhead also present it’s unclear how much run he’ll get.

That being said, with Michel hitting injured reserve there’s a clear lane for Harris to shine if he can make the most of the opportunity. With Cam Newton out due to COVID-19 and Brian Hoyer getting the start at quarterback, the Pats figure to be running the ball frequently on Monday night. A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed as a rookie before taking a step back last year. This quad injury he picked up against Las Vegas certainly isn’t what he needed to get back on track.

Olszewski, a 2019 UDFA, served as New England’s punt returner for half of last season. Davis is a core special teamer who has yet to play a defensive snap this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Douglas, Pats, White

Jets head coach Adam Gase may soon receive his walking papers, and though the leash for GM Joe Douglas will be a bit longer, Douglas is not without blame for the club’s struggles over his first 16 months or so on the job. In a piece that colorfully recounts all of Douglas’ missteps, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News includes an interesting nugget indicating that Douglas nixed an impending agreement for free agent DB Logan Ryan — whom Douglas reportedly coveted — because he was unhappy that the agreement was leaked to the media.

To be fair, other reporters wrote that Ryan’s asking price was the real obstacle to the deal, and Mehta himself has noted on more than one occasion that Douglas is operating under owner-imposed financial constraints, so it’s unclear what actually prevented Ryan from joining Gang Green. And obviously the Jets would still look just as directionless with Ryan as they do without, but when Douglas’ body of work is laid out in black-and-white, one can understand any skepticism Jets fans might feel about the GM’s abilities.

Now for more from the AFC East:

  • Doug Kyed of NESN.com believes the Patriots should try to trade for a top-flight wide receiver. His piece was published before QB Cam Newton threw the ball all over the place in the team’s narrow loss to the Seahawks in Week 2, but in New England’s Week 3 triumph over the Raiders, it was clear that Newton could use another receiving threat. After posting eight catches for 179 yards against Seattle, Julian Edelman caught just two passes for 23 yards against Las Vegas, and the Pats want to reduce Edelman’s snap count. Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry is still coming into his own, and Damiere Byrd is hardly irreplaceable. Kyed believes a player like the Bears’ Allen Robinson would be a great fit, and that New England should not be hesitant to give up 2021 draft capital.
  • Prior to the Patriots‘ win over Las Vegas, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com suggested that Sony Michel needed a big game to keep his job as New England’s RB1, and Michel delivered. He reeled off 117 yards on just nine carries, though he and J.J. Taylor both had 11 touches and Rex Burkhead had 13 (three of which ended in touchdowns). As usual, it looks like the Pats will take a committee approach to their backfield, and the committee will become even more crowded when Damien Harris returns from IR. Still, it’s encouraging for New England that Michel, who has not exactly lived up to his status as a former first-rounder, looked as good as he did.
  • The Bills signed cornerback Tre’Davious White to a massive extension shortly before the season started, a deal that temporarily positioned him as the highest-paid CB in the league in terms of AAV ($17.25MM). But as Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News writes, some league observers believe Buffalo came out ahead in that deal, as Jalen Ramsey signed a five-year, $105MM extension shortly after the ink dried on White’s contract. The NFL world knew that Ramsey’s deal was coming soon, so pundits like Joel Corry of CBS Sports believe White could have gotten himself at least $19MM per year if he had been more patient, and that the Bills were wise to strike when they did. Of course, with $55MM in guaranteed money coming his way, most people won’t be too sad for White.

Patriots Activate Sony Michel From PUP

The Patriots officially activated running back Sony Michel from the PUP list on Wednesday. It’s a promising sign for Michel, who was previously considered questionable for the start of the season. 

Michel underwent foot surgery earlier this year, prompting the Pats to sign Lamar Miller as additional insurance. Michel has undergone surgery in each of the last three offseasons, including knee operations in 2018 and ’19. This was less-than-ideal for the 25-year-old, especially after a so-so season. Michel surpassed 900 rushing yards for the second straight year and led the team in rushing, but he averaged just 3.7 yards per tote, down from 4.5 per carry as a rookie.

Had Michel remained on the PUP list to start the year, he would have been shelved for the first six weeks of the season. Now, he’s set to lead the pack once again, with support from Miller, James WhiteRex Burkhead and Damien HarrisBrandon Bolden, meanwhile, will spend 2020 away from the team after opting out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sony Michel Uncertain For Week 1?

The Patriots agreed to terms with Lamar Miller on Monday. Part of the reasoning may stem from Sony Michel‘s status.

Michel underwent foot surgery earlier this offseason, and Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes the former first-round pick is not certain to be ready in time for Week 1 (subscription required). The Patriots have Michel on their active/PUP list, and Howe adds his recovery does not appear to have a near-future end date.

This marks the third straight offseason in which Michel has undergone surgery. Knee operations transpired in 2018 and ’19. Michel’s foot procedure came after a somewhat disappointing season. While Michel surpassed 900 rushing yards for the second straight season and was far and away the Patriots’ rushing leader, he received 38 more carries in 2019 and averaged just 3.7 yards per tote — down from 4.5 as a rookie.

Were Michel not to practice during training camp, the Pats could place him on their reserve/PUP list — which would shelve him for the season’s first six weeks. But it is not clear if the Georgia product needs that long to recover.

The Patriots lost Brandon Bolden to an opt-out choice but still roster Miller, James WhiteRex Burkhead and Damien Harris. Were Michel to land on the reserve/PUP list, this quartet would be in line to make New England’s 53-man roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sony Michel Underwent Foot Surgery

Patriots running back Sony Michel has once again gone under the knife. As Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports, Michel underwent foot surgery last month.

Luckily, the procedure was more of a “maintenance-based” one, but it’s still unclear if Michel will be fully healthy for training camp or if he will open camp on the PUP list. Last June, the Georgia product underwent a knee scope and spent the first two days of TC on the PUP list before returning to the field. He also had fluid drained from his knee during training camp of his rookie season in 2018, and he twisted his knee in a regular season game later that year and missed two games as a result.

Michel, 25, ultimately played in all 16 regular season games for the Pats last year. However, he was not especially impressive, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and accounting for a modest 23 defense-adjusted yards above replacement.

But he averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his rookie season across a similar number of attempts, and he does have a first-round pedigree, so he figures to continue playing a major role in the New England offense in 2020. However, the Pats are also rostering promising 2019 third-rounder Damien Harris, who may start to push Michel if he does not start performing at a higher level.

As they transition to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback, the Patriots may be leaning especially heavily on their running game in 2020. They will need Michel and the rest of the RB contingent, which also features talented pass-catching back James White, to be at their best.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Thomas, Michel, Gronk, Wynn

Demaryius Thomas is not a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and may well begin the season on the reserve/PUP list. The Patriots started that process Sunday by placing the Pro Bowl wide receiver on their active/PUP list, which applies to players not healthy enough to begin participating in training camp. The Pats used the same designation for Sony Michel, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Michel will certainly be part of the 2019 Patriots and is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Thomas tore an Achilles in December, joining longtime receiver teammate Emmanuel Sanders in that regard. The latter, however, is further along in his recovery, having not started Broncos camp on the PUP list.

Here is the latest out of New England:

  • Patriots third-round pick Yodny Cajuste underwent quadriceps surgery before the draft and landed on the defending Super Bowl champions’ reserve/NFI list, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. As is the case with the active/PUP list, players can come off this list at any point during camp. Cajuste figures to mix in as a swing option for the Patriots as a rookie.
  • If Rob Gronkowski does follow through on a comeback, might the Patriots be wise to assure him blocking responsibilities will be limited? While the future Hall of Famer was a plus blocker for his position, Jim McBride of the Boston Globe suggests the Pats use Gronk as a hybrid-type player that does not have the same kind of in-line role he previously held. The 30-year-old icon has slimmed down this offseason, one that has reportedly not featured much in the way of strength work.
  • Deatrich Wise and Nate Ebner will join Thomas and Michel on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss tweets. A third-year defensive end, Wise has not missed a game in two seasons.
  • Isaiah Wynn, however, will not appear on the Pats’ active/PUP list, Reiss adds (via Twitter). The 2018 first-round pick missed all of his rookie season due to a torn Achilles’ tendon. Suffering the injury before last season began, Wynn is expected to suit up when the Patriots convene for their 2019 camp and line up as New England’s starting left tackle.
  • The Pats do not appear to have an open spot at quarterback, with Reiss noting Brian Hoyer will stick as Tom Brady‘s top backup and rookie Jarrett Stidham is likely assured of a roster spot as the team’s latest developmental QB project. This puts 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling on the verge of again falling short of a spot on the team’s active roster. But he may have an outside shot as a Taysom Hill-like role, per Reiss. While the Purdue and LSU alum never rushed for more than 200 yards in a season in college, Reiss points to his 86-yard touchdown run during 2018 preseason play as a sign this outside-the-box notion could work. The Patriots probably aren’t too eager to take Brady off the field, however.

Extra Points: Michel, Jets, Eagles, Browns

Patriots running back Sony Michel missed the team’s minicamp following arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He is “progressing quickly” in his recovery and is reportedly running at “full tilt,” the NFL Network’s Mike Girardi tweets.

That’s a good sign for the second-year back, who sounds like he is on track to return to action when the team opens training camp in July.

A first-round pick in 2018, Michel impressed in his rookie campaign with 931 rushing yards and six touchdowns. He turned it up a notch in the postseason, adding another six rushing scores in New England’s run to a Super Bowl title.

Even if the Georgia product misses a little time, the Patriots should still be in good hands in the backfield. The team still boast James White and added Damien Harris, a running back from Alabama, in the draft in April.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Browns were deemed to have the best offseason, an ESPN NFL Nation post states. Each team was given a designation of elite, above average, average and too soon to tell, and Cleveland was the only squad to garner an elite ranking. The explanation for the lofty ranking was the team succeeding on its goal of surrounding second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield with talent at the skill positions with Odell Beckham and Kareem Hunt.
  • With Joe Douglas now with the Jets, the former Eagles vice president of player personnel could look to fortify his new squad with players from his old team, NBC Sports’ Dave Zangaro writes. Zangaro identifies 10 players who could be cut or have reduced roles in the coming weeks who Douglas could have his eyes on, three of which are in the secondary in cornerbacks Cre’Von LeBlanc and Josh Hawkins, and safety Deiondre’ Hall.

Pats RB Sony Michel Undergoes Knee Scope

Patriots running back Sony Michel missed the final phase of New England’s offseason workout program after undergoing a knee scope, tweets Jeff Howe of The Athletic. However, Michel should be available for the start of training camp.

For most players, a knee scope — especially one with a projected training camp return — wouldn’t necessarily make news, but Michel’s history of knee issues is certainly concerning. Michel, who was selected 31st overall in 2018, had knee concerns heading into the draft and has a torn ACL on his record. Additionally, Michel suffered a knee injury in August that forced him to miss the preseason and the Patriots’ first regular season game, while another knee issue kept him out of Weeks 8-9.

If Michel is forced to miss time during the regular season, New England has enough backfield depth to withstand his absence. James White remains one of the NFL’s best pass-catching running backs, while Rex Burkhead has played well as both a runner and receiver for the Patriots over the past two seasons. New England also deployed a 2019 third-round pick on Alabama’s Damien Harris, re-signed special teams ace Brandon Bolden, and inked undrafted free agent Nick Brossette.

Michel, 24, led the Patriots in rushing attempts (209), rushing yards (931), and rushing touchdowns (six) in his rookie campaign, and ranked 11th league-wide in success rate, meaning he was exceptional at keeping New England’s offense “on schedule” with regard to down and distance. Never much of a pass-game contributor in college, Michel managed only seven receptions in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Cowboys, Patriots, Michel, Jets

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee aggravated his hamstring injury in Monday night’s game against the Titans and will be sidelined for “a little bit,” head coach Jason Garrett told reporters, including Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Lee, of course, has had problems staying healthy throughout his lengthy career, as he’s never played a full 16-game slate and just recently missed Weeks 4-6. While Dallas’ defense has historically posted vastly inferior production without Lee on the field, those splits have become less stark thanks to the excellent play of fellow Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Lee isn’t the only member of the Cowboys expected to be sidelined for multiple weeks, as left guard Connor Williams is likely to require knee surgery that will knock him out of action for a few games, according to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. Williams’ injury isn’t season-ending, but he’s going to have to sit out for several weeks as he recovers. The 50th overall selection in the 2018 draft, Williams has been a middling option at guard this season, ranking 42nd among 75 positional qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Per George, it’s unclear how the Cowboys will replace Williams, but La’el Collins — a former guard — won’t be moved off right tackle.
  • In the AFC, we have news on two injured Patriots running backs, including rookie Sony Michel. Michel suffered a knee injury against the Bears in Week 7 and hasn’t played since, but he’s on track to return against the Titans on Sunday, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. New England hasn’t had any trouble in its backfield even without Michel thanks to the efforts of James White and Cordarrelle Patterson, but Michel — who managed at least 18 carries and touchdown in Weeks 4-6 — will give the Patriots a more balanced attack.
  • Fellow Patriots running back Jeremy Hill announced on Twitter that he underwent surgery for his torn ACL on Monday. Hill suffered his knee injury in Week 1, but players will often wait on surgery for a variety of reasons. Hill, who is in his first season with New England, may have waited for swelling to subside, or, as Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald tweets, Hill could have hoped to restore range of motion prior to an operation. After inking a one-year, $1.5MM deal this offseason, Hill will hit free agency next spring entering his age-27 campaign.
  • Is offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates the right play-caller to lead Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold‘s development? That’s the question Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News attempts to answer in his most recent column, noting that Darnold has displayed signs of progress despite his high interception totals.