Watch out, NFL, the Patriots are getting healthy.
For the first time in several weeks, the defending Super Bowl champs took the practice field with every player on their active roster, and that included wide receiver Julian Edelman.
The veteran suited up for the first time since breaking his left foot on Nov. 15 against the New York Giants. Afterward, he spent a couple of minutes answering reporters' questions and nearly regretted the decision to do so.
"It's always good to be out there with your teammates and the staff and put the cleats on and run around," he began.
In the swarm of people around him, a TV news photographer positioned directly in front of Edelman had an unused fold-up metal step stool resting against his legs. While Edelman was talking, the stool accidentally toppled over and landed on Edelman's injured foot. It didn't cause any harm, and Edelman took it in stride.
"Oops, there goes my foot. Thanks, buddy," he quipped.
Check out photos from access to players and coaches as the New England Patriots prepare to play the Houston Texans on Sunday night at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Given the nature of his injury, it was mildly surprising to most outside observers to see Edelman in uniform so soon after his surgery, though not to the player himself. Edelman wasn't willing to elaborate on how much he was able to do in Friday's practice, but maintained, "We've been working hard and we've got a good [medical] staff in here, so, no, wasn't necessarily a surprise. I'd like to be back as soon as I can, but doing it safely and then smart, and just trying to improve each day."
The concern, of course, as Edelman alluded to, is not to rush back to the field before the injury is sufficiently healed. That can lead to an aggravation of the injury and further complications, as tight end Rob Gronkowski experienced a few seasons ago after he broke his left forearm.
Like Edelman, Gronkowski is currently battling an injury (bone bruise and sprained right knee) and began practicing again yesterday after sitting out four straight practices and the Eagles game. He gave a brief statement to the media shortly after Edelman spoke.
"I'm doing everything I can to get better every single day, and it feels good to be back with my teammates," said Gronkowski. "Just mentally, physically to be back with them out on the practice field, and any other questions, you've just got to talk to Coach Belichick. Thanks."
Johnson on the rebound
Earlier this week, the Patriots added cornerback Leonard Johnson to the active roster just days after he was released from Tampa Bay's injured reserve list. The fourth-year veteran hadn't played since the preseason, when he sustained an ankle injury and wound up on what is normally season-ending IR.
Last week, however, the Bucs and Johnson agreed to an injury settlement that allowed him to become a free agent. On Monday, he worked out for the Patriots and was signed two days later.
"I'm 100 percent healthy. Excited about that," Johnson said Friday in his first meeting with local media.