FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots placed Jacoby Brissett on injured reserve Friday afternoon after a league sourced confirmed the rookie quarterback had surgery on his right thumb while his teammates practiced for Sunday’s game with the Browns.
It’s unknown how long Brissett will be sidelined but the Patriots can bring him back from IR after six weeks. Teams are allowed to bring only one player back from IR per season. In any case, the move opens a roster spot for Tom Brady, who will return as the starter in Cleveland.
Brissett started the last two weeks after taking over midway through the Dolphins win in Week 2 when Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder.
He led the Patriots to a win over the Texans in Week 3 and suffered the thumb injury in that game when Houston’s Vince Wilfork landed on him. He played through the injury the rest of the way and in last week’s loss to the Bills.
The third-round pick has completed 34 of 55 passes for 400 yards this season and also has 83 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Following last Sunday’s loss to the Bills, Brissett simply answered “no” when asked if his thumb bothered him. He gained the respect of his teammates for playing through the injury.
“I’ll tell you one thing though, No. 7, he’s a tough kid and he came out here and had a gutsy performance,’’ receiver Julian Edelman said after the game. “I gained a lot of respect for that young man and how poised he was to overcome the obstacles that he had to.’’
Placing Brissett on IR is a clear indication the team is confident Garoppolo, who was listed as limited and questionable on the practice report, has sufficiently recovered enough from his shoulder injury to serve as Brady’s backup.
“Just trying to focus on what I can do,’’ said left guard Joe Thuney when asked about his fellow rookie’s absence. “We had a great day of practice today.’’
He’ll wait and see
With Brady set to be back in the saddle on Sunday, the popular belief is that he’ll be in midseason form. While coach Bill Belichick surely hopes that’s the case, he isn’t necessarily counting on it.
“I’ve coached for a long time in this league. I’ve seen a lot of players miss practice time for whatever the reasons are — injuries, contract holdouts, suspensions, etc.,’’ he said. “I would just say in general it’s hard for a player who’s not playing football to practice playing football. I don’t care how many times you run around the track. I don’t care how many sit-ups you do . . .
“So, I think we benefit from practice reps. I think we benefit from game reps. I think not having those is not beneficial,’’ he added. “It doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good performance, it just means if that was the best way to prepare for the game then that’s what we would do. I just don’t happen to believe that. I’m sure a lot of other people disagree with me but that’s just the way I see it.
Edelman moving well
Edelman, who was added to the injury report Thursday with a foot problem, was at the shorts and shells workout and seemed to be moving without a problem.
Edelman, who was listed as limited and questionable on the practice report, wasn’t spotted in the locker room after practice.
Also appearing to move fine was starting right tackle Marcus Cannon, who missed Thursday’s full-pads practice with calf injury. He also was listed as limited and questionable.
In addition to Brissett, running back Brandon Bolden (knee), linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion), and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (back) missed practice. It was third straight miss for the latter trio and Bolden and McClellin already have been declared out for Sunday.
Also listed as limited/questionable were tight end Rob Gronkowski; running back LeGarrette Blount (hip); linebackers Dont’a Hightower (knee) and Jonathan Freeny (shoulder); and Thuney (shoulder).
In a festive mood
Martellus Bennett was in the holiday spirit Friday afternoon — albeit a few months early. Among the selections blaring from his locker were “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” by Carla Thomas and “Walking in a Winter Wonder Land,’’ by Dolly Parton. The big tight end also wished reporters a “Merry Christmas’’ as access time came to a close . . . The Patriots have won five of the last six meetings with the Browns. The lone loss was a 34-14 decision in Cleveland Nov. 7, 2010 . . . It’ll be a homecoming for ex-Browns Barkevious Mingo (acquired via trade in August) and Jabaal Sheard (signed as a free agent in 2015).