FOXBOROUGH — Julian Edelman remained out of action Wednesday, the first day the Patriots could start the comeback clock on their top receiver.
Edelman is on injured reserve after having a knee procedure last month and can return at any time after sitting out the requisite three games.
The 12-year veteran is third on the club with 315 receiving yards despite not having played since Oct. 25.
The Patriots did start the clock on offensive lineman Justin Herron as the rookie returned to the practice field as he recuperates from an ankle injury suffered against the 49ers.
“Neither player has had a setback. They’ve both progressed in a positive direction,’' coach Bill Belichick said before Wednesday’s practice. “It’s just really a question of whether they’re ready or not, and 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 the 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 of their return to play.’'
Jackson on the ballot
J.C. Jackson found himself on the Pro Bowl ballot Wednesday after the cornerback, who leads the league with six interceptions, was originally left off.
The omission was simply a case of the Patriots submitting their base defense for the ballot and that would have called for two corners — starters Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty — to be listed. The ballot now reflects a nickel defense with Jackson included and rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings removed.
A third-year player, Jackson has 14 career interceptions and is currently riding a franchise-record streak of five games with a theft. Minnesota’s Brian Russell is that last player to record a pick in six straight and Oakland’s Tom Morrow (1962-63) owns the NFL record at eight straight.
Devin McCourty, who had a streak of four in 2019, will be treating Jackson like a starter throwing a no-hitter.
“Nothing,’' McCourty said, when asked what advice he had for Jackson. “I got nothing to do with why he got them, so just let him keep doing what he’s doing. He doesn’t need to hear anything from me.’'
Crennel hands out praise
Romeo Crennel joked Wednesday that he doesn’t “mind [Tom] Brady not being there” for the Patriots anymore but the Texans coach was serious about how deftly he thinks the New England staff has incorporated Cam Newton into the offense.
“It is a little different when you put on that tape and Tom is not there, but I think Cam has good talent and he’s learning the system,’' said Crennel, who believes patience is a virtue when it comes to breaking in a new signal-caller. “But, like I tell everybody, learning the system doesn’t happen overnight. Everybody wants it to happen overnight, but it talks time to learn all the nuances of the system.’'
Crennel, a close friend and longtime Belichick colleague, believes the patience is paying off and saw Sunday’s win over the Ravens as supporting evidence.
“So, I think Cam is working at it and played a couple of really good games — like the Baltimore game,’' he said. “I mean, that was classic Belichick all the way. Keep that other quarterback on the sideline, run the ball and run the ball and run the ball, and then you win the game.’'
All hands on board
The Patriots had 100 percent attendance from the 53-man roster at practice.
In addition to Herron returning, defensive lineman Nick Thurman re-signed with the practice squad and tight end Jake Burt returned from the practice squad injured-reserve list. Receiver Mason Kinsey was released from the practice squad and Isaiah Zuber, another practice squad receiver, was not spotted during the media window.
The Patriots had a baker’s dozen listed as limited on the injury report, including Gilmore (knee), linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin) and Terez Hall (shoulder), defensive tackles Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, knee) and Adam Butler (shoulder), defensive ends John Simon (elbow) and Deatrich Wise (knee, hand), guards Joe Thuney (ankle) and Shaq Mason (calf), left tackle Isaiah Wynn (ankle), running back Damien Harris (ankle, chest), tight end Ryan Izzo (hamstring, hand), and kicker Nick Folk (back).