Patriots' reserve/PUP list in focus

AP Photo/Paul Spinelli

The Patriots have some time before they have to make a decision on players like defensive lineman Ron Brace.With Week 6 of the NFL season in the books, the Patriots' reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list gets thrust into the spotlight as teams now have three weeks to start the clock on players who started the season recovering from injuries.

As Patriots coach Bill Belichick stressed during a conference call Monday, the focus here shouldn't be on the three-week window to allow players to start practicing again as the team has another three weeks from the time the clock is started to make a final decision on whether to activate that player (or put them on season-ending injured reserve).

"You can start the clock any time [over the next three weeks], any time in there, then it's a three-week window," Belichick said. "You could not practice them [until the end of that span], then have [three more weeks] and activate for the last however many games, or put on [injured reserve]. That three-week window doesn't have to come the next three weeks."

With the Patriots scheduled to practice only two days this week (Tuesday and Wednesday) before enjoying five consecutive days off during their bye week, it's a pretty good bet that those healthy enough to start working toward returning to game action will still be eased back in.

"I think it's something to think about, with how much practice time you're actually going to get out of them at the expense of starting the clock," Belichick said. "It's something we'll have to talk about. I think I said it last week, it's really whether the player is ready to come off, if he's physically ready to participate. If he's not, then that's an easy call. If he is, then, from an accounting standpoint, you have to think, 'How do you want to handle it?'"

The Patriots have three players on the reserve/PUP list: running back Kevin Faulk and defensive linemen Brandon Deadrick and Ron Brace. All three appear physically ready to jump back into the fray, but it will be interesting to see how exactly the Patriots work them in. The health of those currently on the active 53-man roster could go a long way toward opening potential spots for these players over the next few weeks. Once a player is formally activated off PUP, a corresponding roster move is necessary to make room.