Patriots’ Damien Harris, Gunner Olszewski Return To Practice From IR; Here’s What That Means

Positive steps for Damien Harris and Gunner Olszewski

by Zack Cox

Sep 30, 2020

FOXBORO, Mass. — Notes and observations from Wednesday’s New England Patriots practice:

— Two potential offensive contributors took their first step toward returning from injured reserve.

Running back Damien Harris and wide receiver/punt returner Gunner Olszewski both practiced Wednesday for the first time since being placed on IR before Week 1.

Both players are eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs if activated, but that’s no guarantee. Once a player on IR begins practicing, his team has 21 days to add him to the 53-man roster.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the team will want to see how these players perform in practice before determining when they’ll be ready for game action.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “The first step would be to practice a player who’s on injured reserve and then whether he would be active or not would depend on what happened during the course of the week. Sometimes those guys — they’re not ready to play as soon as they start practicing — they need another week or two.

“If we do that, it’ll be based on that player’s individual situation and how we can evaluate the guy during the time we have to look at him, whether that’s a week, two weeks, three weeks, whatever it is. First step would be to start them in practice and that starts the clock running on the activation process. Then it becomes an evaluation as we just take it day-by-day.”

Harris and Olszewski both impressed in training camp before missing the Patriots’ first three regular-season games. The former suffered a finger injury late in the summer that reportedly required surgery. A foot injury sidelined Olszewski.

Harris wore some form of tape or wrap on his left hand during Wednesday’s practice.

Under new NFL rules this season, players can come off IR after just three weeks, and teams can return an unlimited number of players. In previous years, players on IR were forced to sit out at least eight weeks, and teams could return just two per season.

The Patriots entered Wednesday with one open roster spot.

— Running back James White has rejoined the team. He was back on the field Wednesday after sitting out New England’s last two games and last three practices following the death of his father.

Several Patriots players dedicated Sunday’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders to White.

— No sign of defensive tackle Beau Allen or offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, both of whom are eligible to return from IR. Allen has yet to practice in front of reporters since joining the Patriots this past spring.

— Special teamer Cody Davis was not spotted during the portion of practice that was open to reporters. He was shaken up while recovering an onside kick late in Sunday’s win over the Raiders.

Thumbnail photo via Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports Images
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