Players on the NFI list are placed there by NFL teams for injuries that happened outside of football. The Patriots have two players on that list, defensive lineman Armond Armstead and receiver Mark Harrison.
The Patriots moved these two players to the NFI list following training camp because New England could retain the players without them counting against the 53-man roster limit. The players are eligible to be activated to the roster in Week 7 at the earliest and there's a chance they can help the team this season.
The 6-foot-5-inch, 298 pound Armstead was placed on the list after battling an infection from heart related surgery in the offseason. In his final year of college at USC, he had a heart attack due to a potential pain killer prescribed from the college. Before the heart attack he could have been a late first or early second round pick in the NFL draft. Instead, he went on to the CFL where he dominated.
Armstead was an elite player in college and in the CFL. He can play multiple position on the d-line. He plays bigger than he is and has great arm length and a great motor, He can stop the run by hitting his gap assignments hard and is very coachable. If healthy, he has the potential to be a JJ Watt-type player.
As for Harrison, the 6-foot-3-inch, 235 pound receiver from Rutgers has the size and speed of a young Terrell Owens, but missed pro day at school with a broken foot.The Patriots signed him last May as a rookie free agent and placed him on the NFI list at the end of August.
The drawback of Harrison is he could be a one-trick pony. In college, he was jammed at times by cornerbacks at the line-of-scrimmage and tends not to take advantage of his speed only running deep out patterns. But there is raw ability there.
If things get worse for the Patriots on the injury front, Armstead and Harrison could be taken off the NFI list and placed on the 53-man roster to help at any time the rest of the season.
Time will tell if it will be of any help.
Bryan Souza is a new contributor to Patriots Insider. He has extensive scouting knowledge of several college and pro teams throughout the country.