FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The good news for Demaryius Thomas is his torn left Achilles, once a ball and chain on his football future, has healed. He’s free.

“I don’t have problems my with Achilles,” Thomas said Sunday in his first meet-up with local media.

The bad news is the rest of his body and his mind are still getting reacclimated to that freedom.

“It’s just reacting. I haven’t been in front of defensive guys or just going play by play in eight months,” he said. “I haven’t had on pads or helmets in a while.”

Thomas made his Patriots practice debut on Tuesday, when he was removed from the team’s Physically Unable to Play (PUP) list after completing his recovery from the Achilles tear he suffered last December. Previously, the 31-year-old had been limited to pre-practice workouts with Julian Edelman, lifts and meetings in the team’s facility. Edelman was activated a day earlier from the team’s non-football injury (NFI) list with a healed thumb.

Despite being sidelined, the two traveled with New England during its weeks of joint practices that preceded preseason games at Detroit and Tennessee. While both were available for Thursday’s 10-3 home win over Carolina, neither saw a snap. Thomas said he’s still knocking some rust off.

“I can feel it. I can feel it certain days and certain days I can’t. It’s a thing that I feel when I play and I still got it. I touched it here and there but some days some stuff it bothers (me),” he said.

Once a perennial 1,000-yard receiver and the No. 1 option on Peyton Manning’s record-setting Bronco offenses, Thomas must now adapt. He’s a fastball pitcher who’s lost something off his heater. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder can’t turn short screens into long scores anymore.

Last season with the Texans – who acquired him in a midseason trade with Denver – Thomas looked like a third option squeezed into a No. 2 role. New England signed him to a one-year deal in April. Now, he’s competing for a roster spot and Tom Brady’s trust.

The two go hand in hand. For what it’s worth, Brady and Thomas seem to be growing close, and Thomas is confident he’s crawling closer to 100 percent.

“I still can go. I still can go,” he said. “Like I said, knock a little rust off and just keep hitting the days.”

Thomas said he’s learned expectations are higher in New England. His pit stop in Houston eased his adjustment from a schematic standpoint. Bill O’Brien’s offense provided plenty of parallels to the system the Patriots run today, seven years after O’Brien’s departure. That’s about it, though.

“It’s different. The way they go about it, I see why they win so much. Everybody (does) their job,” he said. “Nobody try to do too much.”

New England’s hope is a healed Thomas, a freed Thomas can look somewhat like the old one. His return, which followed those of Edelman and Josh Gordon, plus the emergence of rookies N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers, has rapidly filled a wide receivers cupboard once viewed as bare.

But signed to a minimal deal with only $150,000 guaranteed, it’s possible he becomes the odd man out.

Or he’s old man in, rejuvenated and ready for one last ride.

“It’s a tougher challenge because here they expect more, and it’s a little different than where I’ve been,” he said.

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