New England Patriots fans could be getting their first look at practice squad wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson on Monday night against the New York Jets.
With just three healthy wide receivers on the Patriots’ 53-man roster, Wilkerson will be traveling to New York on Sunday, a source told NESN.com. If Wilkerson is elevated to the active roster, he would join fellow wide receivers Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd.
The Patriots got shallow at the receiver position when N’Keal Harry suffered a concussion and Julian Edelman was placed on injured reserve with a knee ailment after Week 8. The Patriots elevated practice squad wide receiver Isaiah Zuber in Week 8 to fill out the receiver depth chart.
Harry has been ruled out for Week 9.
Zuber has been temporarily elevated to the active roster twice. He’s also been used as a temporary COVID-19 replacement twice. With no current COVID-19 cases, the Patriots can’t promote Zuber to the 53-man roster again without officially signing him off of the practice squad. Teams can only temporarily elevate a player to the active roster twice in a season.
Wilkerson is joined on the practice squad by Zuber and fellow receivers Mason Kinsey and Donte Moncrief. Moncrief, a seventh-year veteran, signed to the practice squad this week.
The Patriots do have a reinforcement coming at wide receiver in Isaiah Ford, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. Ford couldn’t practice with the Patriots this week while undergoing COVID-19 testing and quarantining, per the NFL’s pandemic policy. Ford currently is on the exempt list and isn’t taking up a roster spot.
Wilkerson, who’s 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, originally signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State this spring. After being waived by the Titans at final roster cuts, the Patriots signed Wilkerson to their practice squad with competition from other teams.
He ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash with a 1.45-second 10-yard split, 6.68-second 3-cone drill, 4.09-second short shuttle, 39.5-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 8-inch broad jump for a relative athletic score of 9.72 out of 10.
He had a prolific career at the FBS level, catching 219 passes for 3,540 yards with 33 touchdowns in four seasons. He caught 71 passes for 1,350 yards with 10 touchdowns as a senior. He hauled in 14 touchdowns as a junior.
One of Wilkerson’s best games came against Southern Illinois and two future-NFL defensive backs, Carolina Panthers second-round pick Jeremy Chinn and New York Giants cornerback Madre Harper. Wilkerson caught six passes for 146 yards with a touchdown against the Salukis in 2019.
Wilkerson displayed an impressive combination of size, agility and contested catching ability in college and during training camp with the Titans. He’s also earned practice player of the week honors during his brief time with the Patriots.