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Nick Boyle has a new respect for injured players and the rehab process

Going through his own grueling rehab has given the veteran tight end a new perspective.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury late in a rain-drenched game against the New England Patriots in Week 10 last year, the only extended time that Baltimore Ravens’ tight end Nick Boyle was not injury-related.

He missed the final four games of his rookie season in 2015 and the first 10 games of the following year due to two separate suspensions stemming from him testing positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED).

He missed the final seven games of the 2020 regular season and both of the Ravens playoff games including the first postseason win since he was drafted. In a recent appearance on ‘The Lounge’ podcast, he opened up about the injury, his rehab from it, and when he’d be back on the field.

“When I got hurt, my leg was just really numb but it didn’t really hurt that bad,” Boyle said. “The grunt of this was going through surgery. When I woke up from surgery, it felt like there was a chainsaw going through my bone, just aching.”

Missing time for being hurt was unfamiliar territory for Boyle, who had never experienced a major injury up to that point in his life. After having had to go through and still counting his own rehabilitation process, he has a newfound respect for those that have experienced it before and endure it more regularly.

“This being my first real major injury, I have a ton of respect for those who get injured now,” Boyle said. “Not that I didn’t before. I’m not a sympathetic dude, but I am to this stuff now.”

The journey for anyone coming back from a serious injury that required reconstructive surgery is long and arduous. But for professional athletes, the process can be and often is especially grueling. Not only are they expected to return to form, they need to come back better than ever in order to stay relevant and keep their job security.

Thankfully, Boyle didn’t have to worry about where he stood with the Ravens too long after he went down. The team signed him to a two-year contract extension worth $13 million back in January that keeps him under contract through the 2023 season.

“Getting signed was an awesome feeling,” Boyle said. “Knowing that this organization is obviously first class. They still stand behind their players even when they’re not at their best times when they’re and down.”

He still isn’t quite fully recovered from his injury and will open training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Boyle believes he is on track to be back on the field when the time is right and isn’t rushing the process.

“When I’m ready, I’m going to be back out there,” Boyle said. “If it’s not right away or if it is right away, just know that I’m still putting in my effort every single day to get back out there as fast as I can.”

The six-year veteran has come a long way since entering the league as a fifth-round pick out of Delaware, who many had written off after his second suspension. He’s become one of the best blocking tight ends in the game and is an integral part of the Ravens’ success on offense. Hopefully, he won’t suffer any setbacks (knock on wood) and is ready to go to start the regular season.