In an October Monday Night Football match-up with the Denver Broncos last season, Houston lost one of their strongest offensive linemen when right tackle Derek Newton tore both patellar tendons. The traumatic injury put an end to his 2016 season and required surgery on both knees.
During the offseason, Newton has been rehabbing and making progress on his long road to recovery, but his timeline for return remains unclear. This same injury has proven career-ending for other NFL players in the past. While we are not at that stage with Newton yet, his immediate future as a player is very much in question.
Today, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reported “Newton will probably not play next season.” This confirms a fear already held by many Texans fans, as the severity of Newton’s injury seemed fairly likely to prevent his return to the lineup in time for the 2017 season.
Despite the uncertainty about his teammate’s future, fellow tackle Duane Brown has said, “Derek’s doing great,” and “He’s doing everything he can to get back as quickly as possible.” Though Newton has undoubtedly made progress in his recovery, he still has plenty of rehab left between now and his return.
Without Newton in the lineup, the Texans’ offensive line struggled mightily last season. If he is in fact unable to return in 2017 as expected, Houston could turn to the draft or free agency to fill the void. Whoever steps in for Newton will have some big shoes to fill, as the leadership and experience of Houston’s veteran right tackle (a former seventh round pick himself) have been an important part of Houston’s offense.