The Patriots should also be getting running back Shane Vereen back shortly after the bye; we'll get some indication of this based on his participation in practice (he is eligible to return to practice after six weeks).
None of those players, though, are on the 53-man roster at the moment. So if the Patriots were to activate all three, they would need to drop three players from the current roster. Here are three moves I would expect them to seriously consider.
Send safety Tavon Wilson to injured reserve
In the first half of his rookie season, Wilson flashed some talent with five passes defensed and three interceptions in the first eight games. His production tailed off in the second half of the season in part because the Patriots moved Devin McCourty from cornerback to safety.
This year, though, his playing time has plummeted. According to Football Outsiders, he has played only one snap on defense in 2013. Moreover, he's missed the last three games with a hamstring injury. He's not really helping the team so this seems like an easy move to make.
Send running back Leon Washington to injured reserve
The Patriots signed Washington in part because of his prowess on kickoff returns; Pro-Football-Reference.com notes he and Josh Cribbs are tied for the all-time record for career kickoff return touchdowns with eight.
Unfortunately, that hasn't translated to the Patriots. So far this year he has one rushing attempt for one yard and one return for 19 yards. He's only been active for two games, and he hasn't practiced since the Patriots' loss to the Bengals. Moreover, the Patriots have been relying on 250-pound LeGarrette Blount to return kicks in his absence.
While having Blount return kicks is sub-optimal, he's still a better option than someone who isn't healthy.
Waive linebacker Steve Beauharnais
Beauharnais was one of two seventh-round draft picks for the Patriots this year and the last of three Rutgers defenders the Patriots drafted.
According to Football Outsiders, he hasn't played a single snap all season. Even in the Patriots' Week 7 loss against the Jets, he did not play on one of the Patriots' 93 snaps on defense, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. Rookie defensive end Michael Buchanan at least managed 14 snaps.
While cutting a healthy player is not a great move, if the Patriots need the roster spot, this seems like a logical move to make.
UPDATE (10/22, 1:30 a.m. ET): After this piece was published, the Patriots announced that they had waived DE Andre Neblett, according to Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com.
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