By Danny Cox
The AFC Championship Game was almost two weeks ago, and the New England Patriots suffered a small handful of injuries during that contest that seemed quite concerning. With that much time between the conclusion of that game and Super Bowl LII, the hope was that most of the injuries would heal up and that the majority of the roster would be in playing shape to face the Philadelphia Eagles.READ MORE: Poinsettias, Trains Help H.P. Rawlings Conservancy Get 'Back On Track'
Little did anyone expect for the New England Patriots to have a Super Bowl injury report without a single player listed.
That’s right. For the first time all season, the Pats have not a single person listed on their injury report as late on Friday afternoon; they’ve removed every single player. Earlier in the week, there were a handful of names on it and some who were dealing with some rather serious issues, but everything seems to have been cleared up.
Earlier in the week, the Patriots had four players listed on the injury report and all of them have healed up in the exact same timeframe. They were limited in practice on Wednesday, practiced in full for the first time on Thursday, and were completely removed from the list as of Friday.
The biggest name was obviously that of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a concussion after taking a very hard hit to the helmet against the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Tuesday, Gronk said that he was feeling much better and he expected to be cleared and removed from the NFL’s concussion protocol at any moment, but Wednesday came and went without change.
This brought about a bit of concern as the Super Bowl was drawing ever closer and the Patriots knew that playing without Gronk was becoming a bigger possibility. On Thursday, though, the star tight end was cleared and participated fully in Thursday’s practice.READ MORE: Essex Spreads Holiday Cheer With Christmas Tree Lighting
One of the other big worries of New England coaches was cornerback Malcolm Butler, who was battling an illness that came with flu-like symptoms. It was actually quite serious and he did not fly out to Minnesota with his teammates on Monday, as he didn’t want to get any of them sick. He stayed behind in Massachusetts and went to the hospital a number of times, but he was never admitted overnight. By Wednesday, Butler was practicing in a limited capacity and ready to go full-speed on Thursday.
Defensive back Brandon King (knee) and defensive lineman Deatrich Wise (concussion) were the other two players on the injury report at the beginning of the week, but they also improved enough to practice fully on Thursday. On Friday, they were practicing at full-speed once again and removed from the injury report.
It is quite unheard of for an NFL team to have an empty injury report at any point in a season, and that includes Week 1. Still, here are the New England Patriots with a clean slate and a totally healthy team as they prepare to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Sunday.