Josh Gordon in pads a sign he's off NFI, eligible to play Week 1

Phil Perry
NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- For the first time since late last year, Josh Gordon is officially eligible to play in a regular-season game. 

Practicing in pads for the first time since he was suspended by the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy last season, it appears as though Josh Gordon has been removed from the non-football injury list. Had Gordon remained on NFI into the regular season, he would've been forced to miss the first six games of the year. 

Now eligible for the active roster when rosters are cut down from 90 to 53 players, Gordon could suit up for the Patriots and be in the huddle with Tom Brady for New England's Week 1 game with Pittsburgh. 

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Gordon is part of a crowded receiver room that could be well-populated even into the start of the regular season. It's conceivable that the Patriots hold onto Gordon, Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Phillip Dorsett when cuts are made. (That was the group that made the cut in our most recent 53-man roster projection.) Slot receivers and returners Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski could also make cases for roster spots. 

The Patriots haven't kept six wideouts (not including Matthew Slater) in recent years, but given the number of question marks associated with those names listed above, it might behoove Bill Belichick to keep extra reserves available. Should any one of those names above be removed from the equation for reasons out of the head coach's control, Belichick might like to have a dependable player like Dorsett -- acquired in a trade that sent the Colts their new starting quarterback, Jacoby Brissett, in 2017 -- to turn to.

Harry and Berrios were back at practice after missing Thursday's preseason game against the Panthers. Berrios is expected to be able to play Thursday in the preseason finale, while Harry has missed practice time and both preseason games since getting hurt in the preseason opener in Detroit on Aug. 8. 

Matt LaCosse, the tight end who hasn't participated in a preseason game since getting hurt against the Lions, was also back at practice. Patrick Chung, who wasn't spotted at Thursday's game, was in full pads and had a wrap around his right arm. Chung was indicted for cocaine possession earlier this month and has an arraignment hearing scheduled for Wednesday. 

Among those missing from Sunday's fully-padded workout were David Andrews, Damien Harris, Trent Harris, Lance Kendricks, Ben Watson and Maurice Harris. Damien Harris, Kendricks and Watson all suffered injuries against the Panthers on Thursday. Olszewski was also injured Thursday but was present at Sunday's practice.

Click here to see Phil Perry's latest 53-man roster projections>>>

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Josh Gordon in pads a sign he's off NFI, eligible to play Week 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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