Patriots activate cornerback Duke Dawson off IR

Dawson was one of two players eligible to return.

Duke Dawson
Rookie cornerback Duke Dawson warms up during OTAs. –File/Steven Senne/AP

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots activated cornerback Duke Dawson off injured reserve Tuesday, getting one of the two players designated to return from that list back in the fold at the start of their bye week.

To create roster space, New England released running back Kenjon Barner and linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, a core special teams player.

Dawson, drafted in the second round in 2018, missed time in training camp and the preseason because of a hamstring injury. Bill Belichick said the Patriots ran out of time for him to get healthy and chose to put him on IR.

Dawson returned to practice two weeks ago, so with those sessions under his belt and two weeks until the Patriots next game, he’ll have had close to a month to prepare to play. Still, nothing beats game reps for a rookie to develop, and Dawson hasn’t played an NFL snap.


His expected role is slot cornerback, where Jonathan Jones is playing the most snaps. Adding Dawson to the mix provides welcome depth, since the Patriots lost Eric Rowe, who started the season playing mostly outside but played in the slot last year, for the season two weeks ago.