Lynn Bowden Jr. call-up among Patriots’ intriguing roster moves entering Colts matchup

Perry: Patriots call up intriguing receiver prospect for Colts game originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Patriots made a handful of roster moves on Saturday that are worthy of our attention.

Marcus Cannon being placed on injured reserve with a concussion should headline the list. He was the team’s starter at right tackle — replacing Isaiah Wynn, who has struggled — as of last week. Now he’ll miss at least the next four weeks before he’s allowed to return, if he can pass through the league’s concussion protocol.

One teammate described the situation as “scary” earlier this week, although Cannon was in the facility Friday, and his presence was a source of some optimism in the Patriots locker room.

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JJ Taylor being signed to the active roster should garner some attention as well. The Patriots could use some depth there as Damien Harris (illness) and Pierre Strong (hamstring) are officially listed as questionable heading into Sunday. If the team needs a back to help spell Rhamondre Stevenson against the Colts, Taylor could end up getting real work. He averaged 3.5 yards per carry on 42 attempts in 11 combined games in 2020 and 2021.

Interior lineman Kody Russey being promoted to the active roster off the practice squad should also be noted. With Cannon out and Wynn potentially back at right tackle, there’s a chance Russey ends up being the top interior substitute in case of injury. An undrafted rookie out of Houston, Russey had some impressive moments in training camp. The Patriots could also always bump Wynn inside to guard and use Yodny Cajuste at right tackle if there was a substitution needed inside and the Patriots felt as though that shuffling gave them their best five players in the huddle.

Lastly, and perhaps most intriguingly, the Patriots called up receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. from the practice squad.

Just over a month ago, Bowden was doing his best Lamar Jackson impersonation at Patriots practices to try to prepare Bill Belichick’s defense for what it would see in Week 3. Now he’s being called up to potentially provide the team with some added depth at wideout.

It makes sense that Belichick would like him. Toggling back and forth between receiver and quarterback for the University of Kentucky and making SEC defenses look silly along the way, Bowden eventually earned the Paul Hornung Award as the country’s most versatile player. (The Patriots just drafted a Hornung Award winner in the third round this year when they took Houston’s Marcus Jones.)

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Bowden has had a bumpy NFL career to this point after being drafted in the third round by the Raiders in 2020. He was traded months later for pennies on the dollar to Brian Flores and the Dolphins. Sent along with just a sixth-round pick to Miami, all the Raiders got in return was a fourth-rounder.

Vegas had given up on him, and Bowden had theories as to why detailed here in a piece by Tyler Dunne. After a fairly nondescript rookie year with the Dolphins and a 2021 spent on IR, Bowden spent this year’s camp with Miami before being waived. He signed with the Patriots practice squad in September.

Here’s what we wrote about Bowden prior to the 2020 draft for our Prototypical Patriots series, which he made as a wideout:

“Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. The Patriots take an athletic quarterback and turn him into a slot receiver… Would they try to do it again? It’s unfair to Bowden to be compared to Julian Edelman, but Edelman’s path offers Bowden an ideal for which to shoot. Bowden had to start the last eight games of his junior season at quarterback for the Wildcats, even though that won’t be his position at the next level. Still, by season’s end he’d rushed for almost 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns, caught 30 passes for 348 yards, and returned both kicks (24.4 yards per return average) and punts (13.2 yards per return).

“There are some concerns about the edge with which he plays — he started a fight before a dominant performance in the Belk Bowl — but that’s somewhat consistent with his reputation as a maniacal competitor. He broke 48 tackles on 166 runs in 2019, per PFF. Wherever he lands, he’ll bring versatility and a competitive spirit.”

With DeVante Parker (knee) ruled out for Sunday, Bowden will now have a chance to bring that competitive spirit to an NFL game for the first time in almost two years.

It’ll be fascinating to see how the Patriots end up using him given they still have four wideouts — Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton and Nelson Agholor — who will be healthy enough to be active and in uniform. With Strong questionable for Sunday, perhaps Bowden will end up having a role in the kicking game if the rookie special-teams contributor can’t go.

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