FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots are giving one of their 2021 draft picks an extended late-season look.
The Patriots on Tuesday activated safety Joshuah Bledsoe off the non-football injury list, adding him to their 53-man roster ahead of their Week 15 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts.
Bledsoe, a sixth-round rookie out of Missouri, missed all of training camp and the preseason as he recovered from a broken wrist suffered in the 2021 Senior Bowl. He began practicing Nov. 23 and has thoroughly impressed at least one of his veteran teammates.
Longtime starting safety and co-captain Devin McCourty shared a sterling review of Bledsoe’s progress after Tuesday’s transaction.
“To me, Bled has been super impressive,” McCourty said. “For a guy to come in here and maybe one week in, he got hurt and he’s been sitting on the sideline, really. Obviously training, conditioning, doing all that, but he couldn’t practice.
“And for me, it’s been impressive seeing him get on the field and how fast he’s played — executing, understanding techniques. That comes from you obviously (being) locked in in meetings, paying attention, going home, rewatching film. It’s hard for any player to not get any reps and go execute, but when you’re a rookie, you have zero basis, zero foundation of reps. I thought Bled has done a great job.”
McCourty said being part of a veteran-laden secondary — Bledsoe and cornerback Shaun Wade are New England’s only rookie defensive backs — has benefited the 22-year-old.
“We get on him in meetings,” McCourty said. “Him and Shaun are the only rookies we’ve got, and Bled was really the only rookie for a large amount of the time before Shaun got here (late in the preseason). But I think with us asking him questions, I think it’s helped prepare him for being out there, and it’s been fun to just see him get the opportunity to go out there and practice for all the hard work he’s put in to get back out there and give himself that opportunity. I think hats off, really, to him.”
It’s unclear when Bledsoe will make his NFL debut, or if his first snaps will even come this season. The Patriots are well-stocked at safety with McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and slot/safety hybrid Myles Bryant, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bledsoe as a gameday inactive when those four all are healthy.
A former quarterback, Bledsoe appeared in 46 of a possible 48 games over his four college seasons, playing multiple roles in Missouri’s defensive backfield and leading his team in passes defended in 2019 and 2020.
The Patriots waived linebacker Calvin Munson to make room for Bledsoe on their 53-man roster.
Fifth-round linebacker Cameron McGrone began practicing the same day as Bledsoe, but the Patriots chose not to activate him at the end of his 21-day return window. McGrone reverted to season-ending NFI and will compete for a role in 2022.