FOXBOROUGH — It was a triple shot of tough news for the Patriots Sunday with significant injury developments for Dion Lewis, Sebastian Vollmer, and Shaq Mason.
According to an NFL source, Lewis, the electric running back who tore his left ACL against the Redskins last Nov. 8, will need a second knee surgery. While a significant setback, it is not believed to be a season-ending procedure — more of a cleanup — and it’s likely the 5-foot-8-inch, 195-pound dynamo will start the regular season on the physically unable to perform list.
Mason, a second-year guard, has a broken hand. Mason had been taking first-team reps at right guard in camp last week, which is likely when the injury occurred. It was a surprise when he didn’t play last Thursday against the Bears as Josh Kline took his spot in the lineup.
There’s no timetable for Mason’s return, but the bruising run blocker is expected to be back this season.
Vollmer, who was plagued with an ankle issue last season, had shoulder surgery, according to the NFL Media, and is also dealing with a cranky hip, reported CSNNE. Vollmer, who has been on the PUP list since the start of training camp, is likely headed to injured reserve, though it’s unknown if his season is over.
In a new rule this season, teams do not have to declare which player they plan to place on short-term IR, they can simply activate a player who has been on the list for six weeks. Teams still are limited to just one short-term designee per season.
Lewis, who was briefly spotted in the locker room Sunday — he was walking without any limp — has not been on the practice field since June 13, the final minicamp session open to media.
Lewis looked crisp during that session, working through his drills effortlessly, showing off his trademark quickness and cutting ability. He didn’t wear a brace during the practice and credited “a lot of hard work” as the reason he was able to get back on the field that day.
“The trainers wouldn’t have put me out there if they didn’t think I was ready. I wouldn’t have went out there if I didn’t think I was ready,’’ Lewis said at the time. “I wouldn’t consider this a milestone, I would consider it a checkpoint. I consider it another day working hard and trying to get better and stronger.’’
Lewis literally burst on the scene in last year’s camp, winning a roster spot and a starting job and quickly gaining the trust of quarterback Tom Brady. Lewis rushed for 234 yards and a two touchdowns and collected 36 catches for 388 yards and another two scores in his seven games.
His delayed return is a blow to a running back corps that has been without newcomers Donald Brown and rookie D.J. Foster, who have spent most of their recent camp time on the conditioning field.
LeGarrette Blount and James White are the top two backs on the depth chart. Blount, who suffered a season-ending hip injury last year, has come on strong at camp and was impressive against the Bears. He is a classic between-the-tackles bruiser with deceptive speed.
White’s role continues to expand. He has quick feet and does his best work in space. Though he’s not the polished receiver Lewis is, he has improved in this area and will flash impressive moves with the ball in his hand.
Brandon Bolden is a jack of all trades who will surprise with catches at big times.
Tyler Gaffney has been one of the surprises of the summer. He’s been healthy after two lost seasons and has been solid during camp and through two exhibition games.
Mason’s injury further weakens the guard spot that has taken some lumps this summer. Fellow sophomore Tre’ Jackson still is on the PUP list and Jonathan Cooper, acquired in the Chandler Jones trade, went down early in camp with plantar fasciitis.
Vollmer’s absence means Marcus Cannon will start the season at right tackle. The 6-5, 335-pound Cannon has battled inconsistency and injuries throughout his career but is coming off a solid showing against the Bears.
LaAdrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming, and Keavon Milton are the backup tackles. Guard Joe Thuney and center Bryan Stork can fill in at tackle in a pinch.