Matt Patricia can finally ditch the ATV. But just because he can, doesn't mean the Detroit Lions coach is quite ready to bag last year's practice transportation.
Patricia underwent surgery on his lower leg prior to last year's training camp, initially requiring a knee scooter to get around and a protective boot most of the season.
His mobility issues necessitated some ingenuity from the former engineer and Detroit's staff, from building a small fortress of Gatorade coolers on the sideline during the preseason so he could continue to coach at field level to the matte black ATV he used to zip around the practice field.
Now, a year later, Patricia still isn't 100 percent, but he's in a good place with his leg. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic will prevent him from fully returning to his preferred, hands-on approach on the practice field.
"I finally can stand, I finally can walk, I finally can get in the mix, maybe line up and get in a stance and hit somebody, and now I got to keep six-feet distance," Patricia said. "I really think that there's something here that somebody's got with me right now, they're trying to keep me away from everybody.
Patricia said the pandemic has also slowed his rehab schedule, but he doesn't have many limitations these days, including the ability to poke fun at himself.
"I can walk stairs," Patricia said. "Not that I do that regularly, but I could. And I don't necessarily have to be on a four-wheeler to get through practice, although it is an option, which is pretty cool."