Shea McClellin’s impending return from injured reserve was supposed to ease the burden on the New England Patriots’ defense following Dont’a Hightower’s season-ending injury.

So much for that.

McClellin returned to practice following the Patriots’ Week 6 win over the New York Jets and is eligible to make his season debut this Sunday when New England visits the Denver Broncos in Week 10. The linebacker was absent from practice Tuesday, however, and NFL Media’s Mike Garofolo reported he “isn’t expected to return off IR anytime soon.”

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport chimed in with a note that McClellin is “likely out for 2017.”

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe shared additional details about McClellin’s injury, saying he initially was placed on IR with a concussion and suffered a setback in practice. McClellin now will be out “for the foreseeable future,” according to Howe’s source.

McClellin played in 14 games for the Patriots last season, starting four and tallying 41 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery (which he returned for a touchdown) and two blocked kicks.

The Patriots on Tuesday placed Hightower on IR, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates, ending his season. The linebacker reportedly suffered a torn pectoral muscle during New England’s Week 7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

With Hightower and McClellin both unavailable, the Patriots’ linebacking corps consists of Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, David Harris, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly.

New England reportedly filled Hightower’s roster spot Tuesday by signing free agent defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images