Make it as a second-round draft pick entering his third NFL season. Or break it, as in a wrist or a leg or a ...
In two years, Wheatley has played in 11 games and started one. He has endured a series of setbacks that includes a broken wrist, a knee injury and having his appendix removed.
ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss takes a look at Wheatley's evolution with the Patriots. He's on crowded depth chart with Leigh Bodden, Shawn Springs, Darius Butler, Jonathan Wilhite and rookie Devin McCourty, their first-round draft pick last month.
"I think the one thing that has my attention now is that the time is now," Wheatley said. "You can't have any more 'free' years. If you got it, you got it. If you don't, you don't. That lights a fire under me and you have to go out there and show what you can do.
"You have to stay healthy. That's been my biggest issue for the past two years and in college. It's kind of been the story of my career. I think if I stay healthy, I'm going to be all right."
Reiss projects Wheatley as a player on the bubble to make the final roster.
"I haven't really done a whole lot in some people's eyes," he said. "That's fine. Everybody is going to have an opinion on whether I should have been drafted where I was and stuff like that, but obviously, Bill [Belichick] has faith in me or I wouldn't be here. So I have to go out there and just really do what I need to do to gain his trust back and allow him to put me out there and stay healthy."