FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There was a time where it looked like the Patriots were extremely thin at wide receiver. In a flash, the outlook has changed drastically.

On Tuesday, Demaryius Thomas was present at Patriots practice in a helmet, jersey and pads for the first time this preseason. This likely suggests that the veteran wide receiver has passed his physical and is off the physically unable to perform list. Thomas had previously missed all of OTAs, minicamp and the first 16 days of training camp due to an Achilles injury he suffered last December.

If that’s the case, in a four-day span, the Patriots’ receiver depth looks completely different. Last Friday, Josh Gordon was reinstated and placed on the nonfootball injury list. On Monday, Julian Edelman returned to practice coming off the NFI list. Now 24 hours later, the Patriots get Thomas.

The 31-year-old caught 59 passes for 677 yards and five touchdowns last season with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. The five-time Pro Bowler adds more size to the Patriots as he stands 6-foot-3.

All of a sudden, the Patriots are working with Edelman, Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Dorsett and most likely, Gordon to start the season at receiver. Veteran Cameron Meredith is currently on the PUP list. Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios have also had solid moments this summer.

The Patriots were missing Michael Bennett, Patrick Chung, Shilique Calhoun, Derek Rivers, Martez Ivey and Trent Harris at practice. Bennett, Chung and Ivey were new additions and it’s unknown why they were missing.

It would be a surprise if any player who missed Tuesday’s practice due to injury played against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday. Also expected not to play are Harris, Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson and Obi Melifonwu.

TOM BRADY, and others, are happy for Gordon’s return.

“Obviously everyone is excited to have him back,” Brady said during a Tuesday morning interview with WEEI’s Greg Hill. “We’ll just take it day by day.”

Gordon returned to the field on Monday, but he wasn’t in uniform. He opens on the nonfootball injury list.

There was little news all offseason regarding Gordon’s status with the league. Players did not know whether Gordon would be back for the beginning of the regular season, or if he’d be back at all. But Brady remained in contact – at least to some degree – with his star receiver.

In late June, Brady posted photos on Instagram of a workout with Gordon. He also reportedly went out to dinner with Gordon several times.

Asked about this on WEEI, Brady said, “In general, I have had a great relationship with a lot of the guys – almost every single guy I have ever played with.”

“Relationships are a two-way street. That is part of what makes a real healthy relationship. I have had a quarterback-receiver relationship, whether it is with Julian (Edelman), or Troy Brown, or Wes (Welker) or Randy (Moss). We talk a lot. We communicate a lot and you want to see everybody that you work with and play with be the best they can be and you try and support and empower the best way that you can … It’s different for everybody. Everybody comes from different places and I always try and do the best I can do. It’s served our team well over a long period of time. Every player who comes in wants to contribute and wants to do the right thing. I think this current team is made up of guys who have really worked hard, really put the team first and we want to go out there and perform well for our team, and our city, our fans and our family. I don’t see anything different this year other than that.”

AFTER A PROMISING start, Malcolm Mitchell’s football journey came to an abrupt end due to a lingering knee issue.

The Patriots’ 2016 fourth-round pick announced his retirement this past year after only playing one season in the NFL. On Tuesday, Mitchell released a short film, posted on his Instagram account, where he opens up about his emotional breakup with the game of football.

The 7:20 video, titled “Treasure box” is part one in a short video series made by Mitchell.

“I feel enraged, useless, scared, you know?” Mitchell said. “I don’t have any memories of myself without football. That’s how I was going to take care of my family. With football, it was easy to see into the future. Without it, my days get a bit blurrier from time to time.”

In 2016, Mitchell put together one of the best rookie seasons a receiver has ever seen with Brady. In 14 games, he caught 32 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. In Super Bowl LI, his potential was seen against the Atlanta Falcons. Mitchell caught six passes for 70 yards in the Patriots comeback win.

Unfortunately, that represented the final game in Mitchell’s career.

In his short film, Mitchell details his laundry list of injuries. It started in high school where he broke his leg and suffered a torn meniscus. He suffered the same meniscus tear twice in college along with an ACL tear and fractured hip. By the time he retired from the NFL, Mitchell had four knee surgeries.

“I guess it was the morning I woke up and my leg was stuck,” Mitchell said. “No, seriously, my leg was stuck. Like it was stuck, I couldn’t move it. And this was the morning of a football game. I had to call a teammate in to help me bend it just enough to get downstairs so the athletic trainer could look at it.”


Comments are not available on this story.