Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is one of two players on New England’s injured reserve list eligible to return to practice and play this week.
Patriots rookie reserve offensive tackle Justin Herron (ankle) also can return to practice and play Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Edelman underwent a procedure on his knee on Oct. 29 and was placed on IR on Halloween. Based on an update head coach Bill Belichick provided Wednesday, Edelman and Herron could be back in the mix soon.
“I think we’ll do what we would normally do in that situation, and that’s to work towards that goal but not start it until we’re sure the player is ready to start,” Belichick said Wednesday, as transcribed by ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
If a player returns to practice, he is designated to return off of injured reserve and his team has a 21-day window to activate him to the 53-man roster.
“We’ll warm them up inside, see how they feel,” Belichick continued. “Coming through the part of their rehab and just see where they are, where we think they are, where they feel they are relative to beginning/starting the clock on them practicing. Neither player has had a setback. They’ve both progressed in a positive direction. It’s just really a question of whether they’re ready or not.
“Is that today? Is it tomorrow? Is it next week? I’m not sure what the time frame is on that. But I think they’re all moving in the right direction, and decisions really on this — before we start the clock we just want to make sure that they’re confident, and we’re confident, that they’re ready for participation in the next stage in their return to play.”
Jakobi Meyers, who has 27 catches for 346 yards in his last four games, has helped replace Edelman in the Patriots’ offense. New England also has Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Ford and Gunner Olszewski available on its wide receiver depth chart.
Edelman had 21 catches for 315 yards and two carries for 22 yards in six games before being placed on IR.
Herron started two games before being placed on IR. He likely would be the Patriots’ seventh option on New England’s offensive line behind starters Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Mike Onwenu and top backup Jermaine Eluemunor.