With the injuries to starters Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly on the defensive line last season, most fans were hoping to see Armond Armstead by midseason last year to help give them some additional depth. Unfortunately he suffered a setback thanks to a mysterious infection, which ultimately prevented that from happening.

Now according to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, Armstead is reportedly on pace to be ready April 21st when the Patriots begin their offseason program.  Howe reports that it’s unclear exactly what the team can expect from the 23-year old, but his depth could certainly help them on a group that for right now still remains relatively thin heading into the remainder of free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft.

After starting the season on the non-football illness reserve list, Armstead never made it onto the active roster and was ultimately placed on injured reserve, just months after undergoing surgery at the end of July to treat a reported infection.  In early November Bill Belichick told reporters in a conference call that it “looks less likely now with each day that goes by” that Armstead would return, and ultimately, he wasn’t able to and ended up being lost for the season.

If he’s able to return, he’s certainly an intriguing prospect. He finished with six sacks in his 2012 season in the Canadian Football League for the Toronto Argonauts, and he was released last January per his own request to try and pursue a career in the NFL.

Today’s news is certainly at least encouraging, and it will be interesting to see if this is the year he’s able to finally hit the field here in New England.