Ben Gardner won’t see the field again until next spring during the team’s organized team activities. Having had shoulder surgery last week, the defensive end will spend his rookie season on injured reserve.
Gardner, though, will try to have as productive a first season as he can during the six months he has to rehab.
“I’ll learn as much as I can without being out there,” Gardner said. “Obviously, you’d rather be out there as a rookie. But you can learn a lot just by watching these veteran guys and watching the guys at your position. Just being around the team. I’ll get all the mental reps I can, and I look forward to being around and using my rookie year still to benefit me in the long term.”
Dr. Anthony Romeo performed surgery on Garnder’s left shoulder last Friday in Chicago, repairing two torn ligaments. The seventh-round pick was injured during the team’s first padded practice in training camp.
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Gardner said the shoulder injury was unrelated to the left pectoral muscle he injured last October.
“Coming in as a rookie, you want to prove your worth,” Gardner said. “They drafted me for a reason, and I wanted to kind of show I was worthy of that and show what I could do, and I really felt like I could come in and help this team right away. It hurts. But I have 100 percent confidence I can come back in the future. I’m still a very young player, and I think I still have a bright future.”