Bill Belichick Shares Update On Two Newly Healthy Patriots Rookies

Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe are back at practice


FOXBORO, Mass. — Two members of the New England Patriots’ 2021 draft class made surprise returns to the practice field Tuesday.

Linebacker Cameron McGrone (fifth round) and safety Joshuah Bledsoe (sixth round) both practiced for the first time since being placed on the non-football injury list before training camp.

McGrone is recovering from a torn ACL that ended his Michigan career last November. Bledsoe, a Missouri product, broke his wrist in the 2021 Senior Bowl. This was expected to be a redshirt season for the rookies, but head coach Bill Belichick and his staff determined both were ready to begin practicing.

“They’ve worked really hard,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “Worked really hard. I know they were excited to be out there (Tuesday), and it was good to see them out there. Get them out there and see how it goes.”

McGrone and Bledsoe have participated in meetings and other off-the-field activities since the start of the season. The former is wearing No. 45 and the latter has Stephon Gilmore’s old No. 24.

“They’ve done everything they can do,” Belichick said. “They’re just both coming off injuries that didn’t allow them to participate until this week.”

It’s unclear whether either will make it onto the Patriots’ 53-man roster this season. Per NFL rules, if New England does not activate a player within 21 days of his first practice, he would revert to the NFI list and be ineligible to return until next season.

Even if the Patriots don’t intend to use McGrone or Bledsoe over their final six regular-season games, these practice reps will give them valuable experience ahead of their likely debuts in 2022.

The Patriots already have received important contributions from three of their top four 2021 draftees, with quarterback Mac Jones (first round), defensive tackle Christian Barmore (second) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (fourth) all excelling in their respective roles. After years of subpar draft hauls, this looks like the franchise’s best in recent memory.

The 7-4 Patriots are preparing to host the 8-3 Tennessee Titans on Sunday in a matchup with major playoff implications in the AFC.

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