FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The NFL said the New England Patriots can reinstate the two employees at the center of what a league investigation found was a scheme to use improperly inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

Equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally were reinstated Wednesday after the team requested they be allowed to return.

“The Patriots have satisfied the league’s requirements for reinstatement and the league has granted permission for the employees to return,” the league said in a statement.

The NFL launched a months-long, multimillion dollar investigation after finding the footballs supplied by the Patriots for the AFC title game against Indianapolis were inflated below the league minimum. In one of the more damning pieces of evidence, McNally referred to himself as “the deflator.”

In its report, the league said it was more probable than not that McNally and Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.” The report also found that Brady “was at least generally aware” of the scheme.

The Patriots have insisted that neither they nor their employees did anything improper in the scandal that came to be known as “Deflategate.” But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks, including a first-rounder, and suspended Brady four games.

Brady’s suspension was vacated by a federal judge, who ruled that it exceeded the penalty allowed by the collective bargaining agreement. The NFL has appealed.

The Patriots suspended McNally and Jastremski, and the league said they must apply before the two employees could be reinstated and could not return to their former responsibilities. The team confirmed last week that it had applied for reinstatement.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James would not elaborate on what role McNally and Jastremski would have for the team.

BRETT FAVRE, Terrell Owens and Alan Faneca are among the 108 modern-day nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016.

All three are first-time nominees in voting that will culminate Feb. 6, the night before the Super Bowl.

Other first-year-eligible nominees are safety Lawyer Milloy; running backs Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis; place-kicker John Carney; and linebackers Keith Bulluck and Mike Vrabel.

Already nominated by the seniors committee are Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel. The 2016 contributor candidate is former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

JETS: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie says he wants to make sure his sprained left knee is healed before taking the field again so he doesn’t hurt the team.

Cromartie was injured Sunday in the season-opening win over Cleveland. It was initially feared that he suffered a season-ending injury, but an MRI on Monday revealed only a sprain.

The cornerback said Wednesday that the knee is still sore and he’s not certain when he’ll be able to practice.

 The Jets will reportedly work out former quarterback Terrelle Pryor as a wide receiver next week.

Pryor was waived by Cleveland last week after making the Browns’ roster as a receiver.

TEXANS: Ryan Mallett will reportedly start at quarterback Sunday at Carolina.

Brian Hoyer started the season-opener, but had two turnovers early and was benched in the fourth quarter. Mallett took over and led the Texans on two late scoring drives of the 27-20 loss to Kansas City.

BENGALS: Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was fined $35,000 by the NFL for his personal foul against Raiders receiver Amari Cooper during their opener on Sunday.

BEARS: Defensive end Lavar Edwards signed a contract.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Edwards appeared in 11 games over two seasons with Tennessee (2013) and Dallas (2014). He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Titans out of LSU in 2013.

BROWNS: Starting quarterback Josh McCown can’t practice until Friday because of a concussion, so backup Johnny Manziel will be with Cleveland’s first-team offense in practice.

Coach Mike Pettine said the team will be “prepared either way” for Sunday’s home opener against Tennessee.