PFW recently sat down with linebacker Rosevelt Colvin and discussed his strenuous offseason rehab from his dislocated hip and his prospects for making a full return in 2004. The following is taken from a feature that will run in the next issue of PFW and on newsstands June 2.
As Rosevelt Colvin makes his way through the media workroom at Gillette Stadium on this overcast spring day, he looks as relaxed as anyone who suffered such a severe injury could possibly be. There's no discernable limp or physical discomfort. There's no brace or cane to relieve any undo stress on his injured hip.
In fact, upon first glance, he actually looks like he's added some bulk to his 6-3, 250-pound frame compared to the last time he sat in the same room to meet with the media shortly after signing as a free agent in March of 2003.
Colvin has already showered after his latest workout with strength coaches Mike Woicik and Markus Paul and trainers Jim Whalen and Joe Van Allen. This day in Foxborough is not unlike the couple of hundred that preceded it. Every day provides a new challenge, and even though some prove more productive than others in terms of tangible progress, Colvin understands the importance each holds in the grand scheme of his return.
But the questions of will he return have officially been replaced by queries wondering when.
"I can go out there right now, but it's a totally different thing when you put on the pads and have a guy pushing on you," Colvin said. "What we do is come in every week and do something that is football related, just like the offseason program here, everything you do is position or football specific."
Over the past four months or so, Colvin's work has progressed greatly. At the start, basic things like jogging and simple leg slides were cause for celebration. The goal at that time was working toward perfecting the skills he would need to live a normal life.
After a couple of months of that, after he passed those tests and proved ready to take on bigger challenges, Colvin the man began to re-evolve into Colvin the football player.
"Two months ago, it was 'OK, now that we can jog let's take another step,'" he said. "'Let's start to become a professional athlete, let's start to become a professional football player all over again.' That's what we do every week. Every week we get into something new. As far as running, cutting and doing all of those things … that's not the problem. I can do all those things, I just need to be able to do them well."
When exactly that will take place is still unknown. A couple of months ago, Colvin had started to grow impatient because he believed his rehab had stagnated. With little noticeable improvement on a daily basis, he was forced to perform the same mindless exercises for roughly six weeks. Then all of sudden he remembers one day over the weekend where he felt it all coming together.
"I was like, 'Man, I feel really good,'" he said. "From there, it just keeps going. It all depends on when the muscle around the joint starts to feel comfortable and starts to understand this is what I was doing before the injury happened and I now feel comfortable stepping out there and doing it again.
"I try to stay focused on the task, which is to be ready to compete when we line up for that first game. Do I need training camp? Yeah, I need training to get ready for the first game. Do I need what I'm doing now to be ready for training camp? Yeah. So I just take it step-by-step and try not to look too far ahead, but I also try not to look behind. We have two months before training camp opens and my plan is to be ready for whatever they need me to do come training camp."
'They' in this case would be Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach isn't in the habit of tossing timetables on possible return dates for his injured players and it's not surprising he hasn't done that with an injury of Colvin's magnitude. He did say earlier this offseason that he anticipates everyone being ready for camp come late July and included Colvin when asked specifically about the linebacker.
A realistic expectation for Colvin would be for him to eventually work his way onto the field as camp gets underway, much like injured players Joe Andruzzi, Ty Law and Otis Smith did last year.
"That's a possibility," Belichick said of Colvin's gradual return. "With guys coming off an injury you do some stuff with them and if it doesn't bother them, you do a little more. If it does, you slow it down a little bit until you can try again. As you increase the workload, no one really knows what's going to happen. Players go at different paces and injuries heal at different paces.
"I think he's coming along and made a lot of progress. A lot of times it's the last five or 10 percent of an injury that takes the longest to get back. I think he's come a long way. He still has a little work to do, but there's still time to do it. I think he'll be all right."