FOXBOROUGH — Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who broke his right foot at Miami on Dec. 2, and missed the rest of the season, made his much-anticipated return to practice Thursday after spending the first week of training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
“It felt good,’’ Edelman said after the full-pads workout. “It’s always exciting to get back out there with your teammates, start a new year, and get on the field.”
Entering his fifth season, Edelman is a welcome addition to the Patriots’ young receiving corps.
“Obviously, it’s new right now, so I’m definitely going to have to get my legs under me, work my way in, and try to land a spot,’’ said Edelman, who played in nine games with three starts last season, making 21 catches for 235 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Given all he went through to get back on the field, Edelman was asked how meaningful it was to finally don full pads again.
“It felt great,’’ he said. “You’re around the facility and you’re seeing all your teammates having fun; training camp with guys developing. It was just great to be out there and see all the faces.’’
Edelman was not hindered in any way Thursday, running routes with the receivers and returning punts.
“I’m just focused on coming out here, getting my feet down, running around on the grass, having fun, and playing football,’’ he said.
Asked if there was much rust to be knocked off, Edelman replied, “It’s been a while, so of course. I have a long way to go and I’m excited that the process has started.’’
Was there any drill where his rustiness really showed?
“No, I mean, just in general,’’ Edelman said. “The duration of practice, I mean, these guys are in shape out there, running around with all this fast-tempo stuff. The train’s moving and I’ve got to catch up.’’
Respect for Parcells
With former Patriots coach Bill Parcells set to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, Bill Belichick was asked to share his thoughts about his friend and mentor, who helped rebuild five franchises.
“He made them all pretty competitive in a very short amount of time, on several occasions the first year,’’ Belichick said. “Two Super Bowls in New York, and that franchise really wasn’t . . . hadn’t done a lot in a while. Great coach, great evaluator, does a great job with his team, whatever capacity it was — when he was the coordinator under Coach [Ray] Perkins, head coach, or his other administrative duties at Miami, most recently.’’
Former Giants defensive captain George Martin will present Parcells at the induction ceremony.
“A lot of respect for Bill, learned a lot from him, glad I had the opportunity to work with him and work for him,’’ Belichick said. “Certainly, [it’s] well deserved. The Patriots were definitely an example of a team that was pretty much rock bottom when he got here; rejuvenated the franchise.
“We competed against him in Cleveland, but again he made the Patriots very competitive in a short amount of time . . . I think all the accolades for Bill are well deserved, and I personally value his friendship and have a lot of respect for him as a person and as a football coach/football person. It’s not just coaching, it’s beyond that with him.’’
Four players signed
The Patriots signed four players Thursday, and released defensive back Stephon Morris, a rookie free agent out of Penn State.
The team signed defensive lineman Travis Chappelear, a 6-foot-5-inch, 263-pound rookie free agent out of Northwest Missouri State who was released by the Bengals May 13; and wide receivers Johnathan Haggerty, a 6-1, 195-pounder out of Southwestern Oklahoma who originally signed with the Browns in 2010 as a rookie free agent; and Lavasier Tuinei, a 6-4, 200-pounder who initially signed last season with the Seahawks as a rookie free agent.
“We know they’re coming in late; they don’t have a great background in our system,’’ Belichick said. “We’ll evaluate them on that basis and just take it from there.’’
The Patriots seem to have cornered the market on Rutgers players, also picking up defensive lineman Scott Vallone, a 6-3, 275-pounder who became the ninth player on the roster to have played for the Scarlet Knights.
“We’ve got a lot of Rutgers guys here,’’ said rookie cornerback Logan Ryan, a third-round selection. “We’re all leaning on each other. The Patriots have been great to us.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.