The New England Patriots currently don’t have a kicker on their 53-man roster, and technically, they don’t need to add one before Week 1.
The Patriots appear to have signed kickers Nick Folk and Justin Rohrwasser to their practice squad since both players were present for practice Sunday. The Patriots are likely to place a player on injured reserve Monday — allowing that player to return in as little as three weeks — and use his spot to re-sign Folk or Rohrwasser to the active roster.
The top candidates for injured reserve are the three players who were absent from practice Sunday: running back Damien Harris (hand), defensive tackle Beau Allen (undisclosed) and wide receiver Gunner Olszewski. Harris reportedly could miss the first week of the season, Allen has yet to practice in front of the media and Olszewski suffered what is thought to be a minor undisclosed injury.
The Patriots’ other option to get Folk or Rohrwasser on their gameday roster would include keeping both kickers on the practice squad. The Patriots can temporarily elevate two players from their practice squad to the gameday roster without exposing them to waivers. The Patriots could use one of those spots in Week 1 on a kicker. Players can only be temporarily elevated twice in a season and not in consecutive weeks. So, if that’s the path the Patriots take, it would only be a temporary plan that could carry them through Week 4.
In all likelihood, the Patriots only added Folk to their practice squad Sunday as a means to allow him to practice. If the Patriots send a player to injured reserve before Sunday at 4 p.m., then that player is lost for the season. In order to sign Folk to their active roster Sunday, the Patriots would have been forced to create a spot. So, Folk’s stay on the practice squad probably will only be for one day until Allen, Harris or Olszewski heads to injured reserve. Then the Patriots would have a roster spot open to sign Folk.
Temporary elevations for practice squad players, three-week injured reserve stays and 16-man practice squads are new rules added for the 2020 NFL season to combat complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to Folk and Rohrwasser, the Patriots also added running back J.J. Taylor, fullback Paul Quessenberry, wide receivers Mason Kinsey, Devin Ross and Isaiah Zuber, tight end Jake Burt, defensive tackles Bill Murray, Nick Thurman and Xavier Williams, linebackers Caash Maluia, Rashod Berry and Terez Hall and cornerbacks Myles Bryant and D’Angelo Ross to their practice squad.
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