By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots have recovered nicely from a rash of injuries at wide receiver over the last couple of weeks.
Demaryius Thomas became the latest to return on Tuesday, practicing with the Patriots in full pads for the first time this summer in Foxboro. Mike Reiss later confirmed that Thomas has been activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Thomas hasn't played since Dec. 23, when he exited the Texans' 32-30 loss to the Eagles after tearing his Achilles. He's been with the Patriots at practice since signing in April. His sessions have included stretching and running on the lower conditioning field, which reportedly graduated to full sprints during last week's joint practices with the Titans.
While the Patriots still have plenty of uncertainty at receiver, they do have a lot of depth and upside. It will force Bill Belichick into some tough decisions when he hits final cutdowns.
What Does It Mean For The Roster?
Thomas, 31, remains a major question mark on the Patriots' wide receiver depth chart. He's way behind others in terms of reps with the offense. He should be added to the same mix that includes Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, and Braxton Berrios. Josh Gordon would also be in that group if and when he's activated from the non-football injury list.
Julian Edelman and rookie first-round pick N'Keal Harry are the only locks at receiver. However, undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers has played so well he's virtually locked himself in to the Final 53™.
Thomas' talent, pedigree and relative familiarity with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels may give him an advantage over competitors who have been out there at practice more often. His 688 career receptions are easily the most of any wideout on the Patriots roster.
But Thomas has a long way to go to prove he can work in the Pats offense, and not much time left to do that. If he makes the 53-man roster, Belichick would be betting that he figures it out quickly.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].