During the preseason, the New England Patriots placed two players on the non-football injury list who are now eligible to return: defensive lineman Armond Armstead and wide receiver Mark Harrison.
Harrison, an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers, has an intriguing mix of size and athleticism. He could be an option for the Patriots if they’re looking to bolster their depth at receiver. While there’s been no indication of the direction the Patriots will go with him, I don’t think the Patriots need another unproven player at the position. Remember, Harrison didn’t participate in training camp, so he’s likely going to be behind in his development. He’s an intriguing developmental prospect for 2014.
Armstead, on the other hand, is a player that the Patriots could use as soon as possible. With Vince Wilfork out for the season and Tommy Kelly out for an unknown amount of time, the Patriots started two relatively unknown rookies at defensive tackle yesterday against the Saints: Chris Jones and Joe Vellano.
While Jones and Vellano have shown flashes, both would probably be better suited to sub-package duties. Armstead is a player with intriguing length, athleticism and upside. While the Patriots probably didn’t envision him as a starter in his rookie season, he’d be an upgrade at this point considering the state of the roster. If Tommy Kelly, upon his return, could take on a gap-occupying role, Armstead could slide in nicely as the penetrating defensive tackle.
Both Armstead and Harrison are eligible to begin practice this week. If/When they begin practice, the Patriots will have a three week window to sign them to the active roster, similar to the PUP list.