Foxborough, Mass. - From the outside, Patriots veteran cornerback Ty Law appears about as optimistic as an injured player could be. Law, who has missed the last four games with a broken bone in his left foot, made an appearance in the locker room Wednesday and said that he is hopeful he will return before the end of the regular season.
Law, who said he had the cast on his left foot removed earlier this week and is now sporting a walking boot, revealed the broken bone did not require surgery and that he is hopeful he could appear in one or two regular season games before a potential playoff run for the Patriots.
]()"It's a matter of time," Law said from in front of his stall in the Patriots locker room. "I don't know. I could predict, but I really don't know when. I'm pretty sure myself, that I can come back before the season ends. Just to get a couple of regular season games in, hopefully before the playoffs. I'm looking to come back and make a run. I definitely will be in there for that run. I'm not going to sit out and watch that."
Law was injured during the first quarter of the Patriots only loss this season, a 34-20 setback to Pittsburgh on Oct. 31. He admits to being frustrated about the injury - which wasn't the result of contact with any other player - but chose not to blame the poor field conditions that day at Heinz Field.
Instead, an upbeat Law seems to have taken a big picture approach to the injury.
"Everything happens for a reason and I don't know what lesson I'm supposed to learn from this one - from being hurt - but it just happens," Law said. "It was one of those freak things. I didn't hit anybody. It's part of the game. I've been fortunate enough throughout my career to be able to play without being injured for a [long] period of time. Even this one, I'm fortunate I didn't have to have surgery. It's just a matter of the healing process and I will be able to get back out there on the field this season and hopefully for the playoffs."
The Patriots have been without Law and fellow starting cornerback Tyrone Poole for much of the season. Poole was held out against Miami Oct. 10 because of a knee injury. He started the following week against Seattle, but hasn't seen the field since, missing six consecutive games. The two - who combined to start 27 of a possible 28games last season, including the playoffs - have been in the starting lineup together four times this season.
]()Without their top two cornerbacks, the Patriots have used an array of defensive backs - from second-year cornerbackAsante Samuel to undrafted rookie free agent Randall Gay to practice squad signee Earthwind Moreland to starting safety Eugene Wilson and even wide receiver Troy Brown - at cornerback. Samuel, the team's third cornerback, has started three games but is battling a shoulder injury and sat out last week's win over Baltimore. Gay, who has started the last four games, and Wilson started against the Ravens, with Moreland and Brown serving as extra defensive backs on passing downs.
"I think the guys are doing a great job," Law said. "I think [the coaches] are keeping it simple for the guys to go out there and perform. They've done a great job of picking guys who can play multiple positions. We're asking a lot out of the guys, and they're able to hold it down. The regulars - Tedy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Willie McGinest, those guys - they're stepping up even more so to make up the difference. It's great. I think Earthwind Moreland, Randall, Gay, Troy Brown; they're doing a great job. I had to ask Troy Brown if I came back in if I could have my job back if I get healthy."
Law went on to say he isn't surprised by the success the secondary has had since the rash of injuries. Despite the mixing and matching at cornerback, especially against known passing teams such as St. Louis and Kansas City, the Patriots have been able to achieve a 10-1 record largely without their top three players at the position.
"I wasn't surprised at all," Law said. "I wasn't that impressed. I think they were good football teams. I'm not impressed because I think our guys are talented. If I thought that we would have a hard time, I wouldn't be trusting in the guys that were in the game.
"I'm not surprised at all. Randall Gay? I got thrown in as a rookie, what's the difference between him getting thrown in as a rookie? Go out there, hold down the fort and do what you have to do. Asante [Samuel], he has ball skills out of this world. He's a talent. So they did a great job of bringing in guys who can play. I don't think that those guys would be here on this team if they weren't capable of going out there and playing. You have to expect things might happen during the course of a season. It was just unfortunate for us that myself and Tyrone [Poole] had to go down - our two starting corners - but you have a guy like Rodney Harrison who's keeping everybody together. But we're doing enough to win, that's all that counts."
One thing Law says he did not consider was calling an end to his season because of the injury.
]()"I've been around here long enough, you know me better than that," he said. "For me to consider something like that ... why would I shut it down? For what? I don't have anything to gain by shutting it down. That's not me. I tried to come back during the Pittsburgh game."
Law, who said the break was to a "rare" bone in his foot, is able to go without the walking boot but wears it as a protective measure to keep pressure off of the foot during the healing process. He's currently at the stage in his rehabilitation process to ride exercise bike, saying he feels like he's "in the Tour De France," but is being cautious to come back too quickly. He said doctors have warned him about the reprocussions. The severity of this injury - and his inability to play on the foot - is part of what has differentiated this injury from others during his nine NFL seasons.
"I've had so many injuries throughout my career that I was still able to play from," Law said. "Even if I wasn't 100 percent, I was good enough to do my job. This one right here stopped me. I couldn't' go out there and do my job. There was no way that my body, and no matter how much will power I had, could go out there and tolerate playing on a broken foot. It just want' about to happen.
"After talking to the doctors and the foot specialists, if I did do something stupid, I could end my career," Law said. "That right there scared me."
One thing that was clear is that Law - who held court at his locker for a group of reporters for several minutes - hasn't lost his sense of humor. After leaving the field under his own power, he admitted he was looking for one of the trainer's golf carts for a lift.
"I wasn't about to let them cart me [off the field]," Law said. "But let me tell you a little secret. When we get into that tunnel, [I said] bring that cart."