Christian Barmore has missed the last six games with a knee injury, but a return might be on the horizon — at least in theory. The sophomore defensive tackle, after all, is eligible to be activated off injured reserve following the New England Patriots’ game against the Arizona Cardinals this upcoming Monday.
With the Patriots set to stay on the road for their game against Arizona and the upcoming matchup with the Raiders in Las Vegas, however, the team will have to make a decision sooner rather than later: take Barmore on the trip in hopes of activating him for that Week 15 game against the Raiders, or keeping him on IR until at least one week later versus Cincinnati.
Head coach Bill Belichick spoke about that decision during a media conference call on Wednesday, and while he refrained from making any definitive statements did acknowledge Barmore’s progress.
“We won’t make any decision until it’s time to make that decision,” Belichick said. “But Christian’s making good progress. We’ll evaluate it. We see him daily. He’s working hard, making progress. But we’ll see exactly where he is, what he’ll be ready to do and when he’ll be ready to do it. So, we’ll talk to the medical and training staff and strength staff, the people that have been working most closely with him. Trying to get him ready for that.”
Barmore originally hurt his knee in Week 6 against the Cleveland Browns, and sat out the subsequent three games. While it appeared a return was imminent in Week 11 against the New York Jets, he seemingly suffered a setback and was instead sent to injured reserve.
Per NFL rules, Barmore therefore has to sit out at least four games. The upcoming contest against Arizona is the final one of those, making him eligible to return to practice and the active roster immediately afterwards.
“The timeframe that the league allows is obviously relevant because we can’t exceed that or we can’t go in front of that,” Belichick said. “But ultimately, it comes down to what the player’s physical status is and what he can do. That determination will be made by the people that are working with him on that, the rehab and the in-and-out process. So, we’ll see how it goes here at the end of the week.”
A second-round selection by the Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft, Barmore is a cornerstone of the team’s defensive front. Following an impressive rookie campaign, he saw action in the first six games this season before his injury.
Barmore has registered one sack along the way. His 11 total quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus, are still ranked sixth on the team despite having missed half the season so far.