The New England Patriots will be without All-Pro defensive tackle Vince Wilfork following his Achilles tear in week four against the Falcons. However, they could receive a boost from rookie defensive tackle Armond Armstead. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that Armstead has been making some progress in his recovery from an infection:
The status of rookie defensive lineman Armond Armstead will continue to come into focus in the wake of Wilfork’s injury. Armstead is on the non-football illness list because of an infection that was discovered during the offseason, and he is eligible to return to practice as early as Week 7.
It’s still unclear if Armstead will be ready that early, but there is optimism regarding his progress, and the belief exists that he will be able to contribute in 2013.
Even if he returns to the field, Armstead will be a wildcard. But that may be exactly what the Patriots need. Tommy Kelly has done a solid job providing some push inside, but he could relegate to more of a two-gap role if needed. Armond Armstead was initially expected to contribute in sub-packages as a pass rusher, but if Kelly were to take on a Wilfork-like role, Armstead could take on some of the responsibilities that Kelly has had thus far.
In the meantime however, the Patriots don’t have Armstead. And that means that they will still have to find some kind of short-term solution at defensive tackle.