Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has yet to return to practice since being placed on injured reserve at the end of October.
Edelman, who is rehabbing from a knee procedure, was eligible to return last Sunday against the Texans and remains eligible to return this Sunday against the Cardinals.
Once Edelman does begin practicing, the Patriots will have 21 days to activate him to the 53-man roster. If he is not activated within that window, the 34-year-old will be ruled out for the remainder of the season.
“I think Julian is definitely headed in the right direction,” coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday morning. “I spoke to him and he’s feeling better every day, confident, stronger. We’ll just take it day by day. When he’s ready to go, we’ll put him out there. But we don’t want to rush it or put him out there and then there’s a setback and then we run out of time.”
Prior to undergoing surgery, Edelman appeared in six games, including a monster night against the Seahawks in which he caught eight passes for a career-high 179 yards. That performance was by far his best of the year. In the other five outings, Edelman averaged fewer than three catches for 27.2 yards per game.
During Edelman’s four-game absence, the Patriots have primarily turned to second-year receiver Jakobi Meyers. Damiere Byrd has also stepped up.
Belichick did not offer a specific timeline for Edelman’s return.
“When he’s ready, he’ll be back out there,” Belichick said. “I know he’s working very hard to get back out there as soon as he can. We’ll just take that day by day and see when we all feel like that time is right.”
In addition to Edelman, four Patriots did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Defensive lineman Tashawn Bower (illness), running back Rex Burkhead (knee), defensive tackle Carl Davis (concussion), and tackle Isaiah Wynn (knee) were sidelined.
Burkhead, who exited Sunday’s loss to the Texans after knocking his knee on a defender’s helmet, announced Tuesday he is done for the season, but the Patriots have not officially placed him on injured reserve. Wynn also left Sunday’s game early, and there is no update on the severity of his injury.
Another 11 Patriots were limited in practice. The full list: linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (groin), defensive lineman Adam Butler (shoulder), defensive tackle Byron Cowart (back), kicker Nick Folk (back), cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hand), defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (shoulder, elbow, knee), wide receiver N’Keal Harry (shoulder), tight end Ryan Izzo (hamstring, hand), guard Shaq Mason (calf), special teamer Matthew Slater (knee), and guard Joe Thuney (ankle).
Rookie tight end Devin Asiasi returned to practice for the first time since being placed on IR earlier this month with an undisclosed injury. Asiasi has played in five games with no targets.
Hopkins misses practice
Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins missed practice because of an illness, while quarterback Kyler Murray remained limited because of a right shoulder injury.
Murray’s shoulder has been bothering him since he was sacked in the first quarter last Thursday night against the Seahawks. He called the decision to limit his passes during Tuesday’s practice “precautionary.”
“I feel fine,” Murray said.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Murray is dealing with a minor AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder but is not expected to miss time.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he feels “positive” about Murray’s status for Sunday.
“We want to make sure that he’s feeling able to play his game and play at a high level and do the things that he feels comfortable doing out there,” Kingsbury said Wednesday morning. “We’ll see how the day goes and kind of take it from there.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at email@example.com.