'Running out of time' on Armstead

The possibility of first-year defensive tackle Armond Armstead helping the New England Patriots this season has remained alive, as he's spent the year on the reserve/non-football illness list after having surgery for an infection prior to the start of training camp. Teams have until the conclusion of Week 11 of the season for players on reserve lists to begin practicing, which is this week.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't rule out the possibility of Armstead practicing, but at the same time didn't seem to strike an optimistic tone when asked Monday about the fast-approaching deadline.

"We'll keep going, but as you said, we're running out of time and it looks less likely now with each day that goes by," he said.

In the offseason, Armstead projected to a backup role behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. His free-agent signing in January was met with enthusiasm, and he spent the offseason in the team's strength and conditioning program. Since having surgery for an infection prior to training camp, he has been around the team and taking part in meetings.

The Patriots have been hit hard by injuries at defensive tackle, with Wilfork (Sept. 29) and Kelly (Oct. 6) suffering season-ending injuries.

Rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones have been starting in recent weeks, with newly acquired Isaac Sopoaga and first-year player Marcus Forston rounding out the depth chart.