Coming out of their bye week, the New England Patriots have to make a decision on the status of two rookie players. Linebacker Cameron McGrone and defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe are currently still on the non-football injury list (NFI), but their 21-day activation window will soon close: New England has until Tuesday to either activate them to the 53-man roster or shut them down for the remainder of the year.
McGrone and Bledsoe were selected in the fifth and sixth rounds of this year’s draft, respectively, but were sidelined throughout the spring due to injury: McGrone was coming off a torn ACL suffered during his final season at the University of Michigan; Bledsoe hurt his wrist during the Senior Bowl in January and later required surgery.
As a result of their ailments, both were sent to the NFI list ahead of training camp. Both of them returned to practice on November 23, though, opening the aforementioned activation window.
Whether or not the Patriots actually add them to their active roster will depend on multiple factors, however. One is their health — if they are not deemed physically ready to return on a full basis New England’s decision against activation will be an easy one — while another is the current composition of the roster at the linebacker and defensive back positions.
If the Patriots activate one or both, they will take up spots on the team’s 53-man roster. One of them is open at the moment, but safety Kyle Dugger and running back J.J. Taylor eventually returning off the Covid-19 would force the team to already make one follow-up move. Further action would be necessary to activate McGrone and Bledsoe.
New England currently also has one open spot on its practice squad. However, the team would have to expose the two rookies to waivers before being allowed to re-sign them to the 16-man developmental roster.
In case the Patriots decide against activating McGrone and/or Bledsoe, they would stay on NFI for the rest of the season.
New England also has another player currently in the 21-day activation window. Linebacker Harvey Langi, who is on injured reserve, returned to practice on December 2.