The New England Patriots’ mini bye came to an end on Wednesday, with the team returning to practice to start its on-field preparation for the upcoming game against the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots had perfect attendance, as was announced by the team, and also welcomed two players back from injured reserve: wide receiver Julian Edelman and outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun were back on the field.
Edelman and Calhoun returning to practice now opens their 21-day window to be activated to the 53-man team. If the Patriots do not do that, the two will have to spend the remainder of the season on IR — given that New England makes the playoffs, of course.
Let’s take a closer look at the two.
WR Julian Edelman: Returned to practice
Edelman was originally placed on injured reserve in late November after undergoing a medical procedure on his knee to address an ailment that had bothered him going all the way back to Week 2. The veteran wideout had to miss the Patriots’ last seven games as a result of the surgery and the fact that he had to spend 10 days earlier this month on the NFL’s Coronavirus reserve list as well.
“Julian, I’d but him in the day-to-day category,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a media conference call on Wednesday. “When he’s ready, we’ll start him. If he’s not ready then he’ll keep working and we will wait until he’s ready.”
Now it seems he is ready, at least to return to practice. Edelman’s return is obviously good news for him and a Patriots offense that has struggled to move the football through the air recently. While the 34-year-old has had a comparatively quiet season before his knee surgery — he caught 21 passes for 315 yards in six games — his presence alone should help take some pressure of the team’s other pass catchers.
With Edelman out, the Patriots turned to Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry as their top-three at the wide receiver position.
LB Shilique Calhoun: Returned to practice
Calhoun was sent to injured reserve in mid-November after continuously being listed on the injury report for the previous two weeks. The 28-year-old had been limited in practice because of a knee ailment, and was on the field for just 18 of a possible 104 defensive snaps over the last two games before the move — serving primarily as a situational pass rusher from his outside linebacker position.
With Calhoun out for the next five games, New England turned to second-round pick Josh Uche to serve as the number three outside linebacker alongside Chase Winovich and John Simon. Fellow rookie Anfernee Jennings as well as former practice squad member Tashawn Bower offered additional depth, especially following the release of Derek Rivers.
All in all, Calhoun has played eight games for the Patriots this season; he registered a pair of sacks and two forced fumbles while being on the field for roughly a third of the team’s snaps any given week.