FOXBORO -- Sometimes the new guys just don’t know any better. I suspect Mike Gillislee will get more familiar with the Patriot way, at least when it comes to discussing injuries, after Tuesday’s locker room session.
Gillislee, who has a history of hamstring injuries and showed up to mini-camp with a pre-existing problem from prior workouts with the Bills, suffered yet another pull on the first weekend of training camp and had been unable to practice with the team until today.
“It’s something that just happened,” said Gillislee. “I tried to burst on one those plays at the beginning of camp, it just happened and I was able to get an MRI and everything was good.”
So good, in fact, that the former Bills and Dolphins running back claimed that he's now 100 percent, and was a full participant at practice. That’s good news for the Pats, who clearly were betting on Gillislee to help fill the role that LeGarrette Blount had a season ago. Of course, betting on the 26-year old isn’t necessarily a sure thing. Those hamstrings issues have plagued him throughout his career, even costing him an entire season in 2014.
“Far as injuries, no football player can’t control it,” said Gillislee when asked if he had modified his training regimen to account for these recurrence of hamstring problems. “That was something that was bothering me, but I’m good now.”
Bill Belichick has been pleased with the running-back situation, despite not having Gillislee a full go, terming it a “good competition” just a day ago. Dion Lewis was explosive in the second preseason game, looking like the same player who took the league by storm in 2015 before tearing up his knee. Rex Burkhead has justified Belichick’s faith in him to this point, capable of running between the tackles, down by the goal line and catching the ball. James White has basically had an easy go of it, but we know how the Pats feel about him (they rewarded the Super Bowl hero with a contract extension this offseason). So does that leave Gillislee in catchup mode after the layoff?
“I went out there and I don’t think I missed a step because I was studying and took visual reps each and every day,” he said. “I studied and was able to go out today and fly around a little bit.”
Good to hear. But with his history, something that bears watching in the days, weeks and months to come.
FOXBORO -- On Tuesday at Gillette Stadium, Dont’a Hightower was in uniform and practicing with his teammates for the first time since training camp began last month. Hightower's participation means he has been removed from the physically unable to perform list.
In full pads, wearing Alabama crimson underneath his Patriots jersey, Hightower took part in drills with on-the-line players early in the practice. Members of the media were able to watch only a few minutes of the workout following warm-ups.
The players Hightower worked in with comes as little surprise as he has been used at the end of the line in certain packages in the past. With David Harris now in the mix at linebacker, and with Rob Ninkovich retired, it could free up Hightower to play more on the end of the line.
Nate Solder, Deatrich Wise and LaAdrian Waddle were all back on the practice field for the Patriots Tuesday as well. Solder has yet to play this preseason, while Wise suffered a head injury in the team’s preseason-opener against the Jaguars. Waddle sustained a head injury last week.
Missing from the session were Rex Burkhead as well as Malcolm Mitchell, Matthew Slater, Shea McClellin, Tony Garcia, Matt Lengel, Derek Rivers and Andrew Jelks (non-football injury list).
Burkhead seemed to finish Saturday's game in Houston without incident. He spoke to reporters on Monday, and there were no indications he was dealing with any physical limitations. Mitchell seemed to tweak something in his knee on his first play against the Texans, but he stayed in the game and caught two passes for 13 yards.
Dont'a Hightower is off of PUP. In uniform and practicing. Elandon Roberts and Brandon King out here in red jerseys. pic.twitter.com/FG9q31a7yr— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 22, 2017
Nate Solder back out at practice. Deatrich Wise out here as well but took off for another field after warmups with Geneo Grissom.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 22, 2017
Burkhead and Mitchell, both of whom played Saturday, were missing. Slater, McClellin, Garcia, Lengel, Rivers, Jelks (NFI) not present.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 22, 2017