Sony Michel starting year on PUP should be cause for concern with running back’s development

Ryan Hannable
July 22, 2019 - 11:35 am

Sony Michel had a very productive rookie season with the Patriots, and that came following missing the vast majority of training camp and entire preseason because of a knee injury.

The Georgia product finished with 931 yards rushing and six touchdowns in 13 regular-season games, and had an even better postseason, rushing for 336 yards and six touchdowns.

But, there was one part of Michel’s game that was missing and that can be traced back to missing basically the entire summer: catching passes out of the backfield.

After finishing with 64 total receptions in his four years at Georgia, Michel only had eight catches, including the playoffs as a rookie, and only had one game with multiple catches. Since he wasn’t at many of the training camp practices, he missed valuable time working with Tom Brady and developing the chemistry needed to fit into the passing game.

While he isn’t a wide receiver and it’s a little different, it still matters and missing almost the entire summer likely played a major factor in Michel not contributing much as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

This was said to be a big offseason for Michel, as Bill Belichick always says players generally make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2, but following missing the spring due to a reported knee scope and now starting the summer on PUP, it’s beginning to impact his development.

Sure, Michel could be activated off PUP at any time and it could be in a few days, but any practices missed are big, especially given the schedule the Patriots have this summer when it comes to joint practices. 

The Patriots will spend a week in Detroit prior to the first preseason game and then the following week will be in Tennessee practicing with the Titans ahead of the second preseason game. This means there’s less time for the installation of plays, schemes, etc., but also less time to work on timing and earning the trust of Brady.

It’s also worth noting the team selected Alabama running back Damien Harris in the third round and he was on the field the entire spring, appearing to be a big part of the passing game out of the backfield. While Brady was only there for mandatory minicamp, Harris got extensive work with the Patriots quarterback and that’s something Michel missed out on.

It would not be a surprise at all to see Harris take some snaps away from Michel come the regular season. 

Additionally, just missing this much time as a second-year player is not a good thing. 

Everyone is aware of Michel’s knee injury history dating back to high school when he tore his ACL, but also at Georgia when he had a knee strain in addition to a few other injuries causing him to miss games. Also, following being drafted last season, it was reported he has a bone-on-bone condition in his knee.

If Michel is missing this much time in the offseason, how can he be counted on to play a full season and be depended on to have the workload of a lead NFL running back? This seems to be one of the reasons for drafting Harris, to take some of the pressure off of Michel as his body cannot handle another season like last year.

While Michel should be good to go for the regular season, missing the spring and now at least part of the summer is beginning to impact his development and should not get overlooked.

Related: Former Patriots greats to be on field at training camp this week