New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive tackle Alan Branch will each begin 2017 training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, according to the NFL transaction wire.
Hightower was present for both voluntary and mandatory workouts this summer, spending a lot of time riding a stationary bike. The 27-year-old missed three games last season with injuries, but did not participate in either of them, and has only played one full 16-game season without injury in his five-year career.
Branch was not present for voluntary workouts this summer but was there for mandatory minicamp. There, he was held out of the team's normal drills on the practice field,Authentic Ethan Pocic Jersey, but he did his own work on the side.
Both Hightower and Branch can be taken off the PUP list at any time. Training camp opens to the public Thursday,Authentic Shaquill Griffin Jersey, July 27.
Meanwhile,Authentic Delano Hill Jersey, undrafted offensive lineman Andrew Jelks on the active/non-football injury list. Like Hightower and Branch,Womens Arthur Brown Jersey, he can come off at any time.
New England Patriots have best backup QB situation in NFL, according to ESPN ranking
The New England Patriots turned some heads this offseason when they decided to hold on to Jimmy Garoppolo rather than trade him for a number of draft picks. By keeping Garoppolo,Authentic Jameis Winston Jersey, however, they give themselves an incredible safety net just in case Tom Brady goes down with an injury.
Garoppolo is such a valuable backup, in fact, that ESPN's Field Yates gave the Patriots the No. 1 ranking out of all backup quarterback situations in the league.
"Although the sample on Jimmy Garoppolo is still small -- he has attempted only 94 passes in his career -- it's clear that he is viewed across the league as a long-term starter in the NFL. His value to New England was shown through the Patriots' decision not to trade him this offseason, despite ardent efforts from the Browns. Jacoby Brissett showed promise in two starts last season and won the respect of teammates and coaches through his toughness."
It makes plenty of sense that a backup tandem of Garoppolo and Brissett would be ranked as the best in the league. Garoppolo shined in his week and a half trial period to start last season, leading the Patriots to victories against the Cardinals and Dolphins.
The 25-year-old was 42-for-59 with 496 yards, with a 119.0 quarterback rating. A shoulder injury ended his second game early, four touchdowns and no interceptions during that span, and Tom Brady re-took the reins at starting QB when he returned from suspension.
Meanwhile, despite having very few practice reps as a starting quarterback. He led the team to a 27-0 win over a future playoff opponent Houston Texans team, Jacoby Brissett was not bad in his brief run as the Patriots' starting quarterback, though he struggled in a 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills the following week.
The Bengals (A.J. McCarron) and Saints (Chase Daniel) rank just behind the Patriots on Yates' list. But to start the 2017 season, no team really seems close to what New England has at backup quarterback.
Report: Dont'a Hightower,Womens Ethan Pocic Jersey, Alan Branch to start camp on PUP
Hightower was at the the Patriots' voluntary workouts during the spring,Womens Shaquill Griffin Jersey, but wasn't practicing and did some conditioning during minicamp. Branch was also working off to the side during minicamp and was not at OTA's,Authentic Arthur Brown Jersey,Authentic Mike Alstott Jersey, but his absence from those voluntary workouts is fairly routine for him.
While it's unclear what injury Hightower is dealing with,Womens Mike Alstott Jersey, Mike Giardi of CSNNE points out that Hightower did have a harness on his left shoulder for Super Bowl LI, so it's possible that harness and him landing on PUP could be related. Hightower had surgery on his right shoulder after the 2014 season.
As for Branch, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that this is just the typical routine for him and once he passes his conditioning test he'll be fine. There is no concern about any injury for the defense lineman.
Because they are on PUP, Branch and Hightower will not be allowed to practice with the team, but they can come on the list at any time. If they are still on it by the end of the preseason, however, they have to sit out the first six week of the regular season.
Along with placing their two defenders on PUP, the Patriots have also placed undrafted offensive lineman Andrew Jelks on the active/non-football injury list.
Training camp for New England begins on Thursday.