FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick said it was "a possibility" on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it was a reality.
Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin was back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury that landed him on injured reserve before the season.
Belichick mentioned in a conference call this week that if McClellin was ready to practice, then practicing was an option. "If he's not ready," Belichick said at the time, "then it's not an option."
Obviously, it was an option, and the Patriots brought McClellin back as soon as possible based on the league's rules for players on injured reserve. For those who have been placed on IR, they must sit out six weeks before returning to practice. They must sit out eight weeks before playing in a game. Because the Patriots have a Week 9 bye, then McClellin's first opportunity to be in uniform would be Week 10.
For the first time since players could be designated to return off of IR in 2012, teams are now allowed to bring back two players.
Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell has also been on IR since the day of the season-opener, though he has not been spotted in the Patriots locker room recently. ESPN's Mike Reiss reported over the weekend that Mitchell (knee) isn't close to a return.
Patriots defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (knee) is on IR as well and could be a candidate to return, but he was placed on the list two days prior to New England's Week 3 game with Houston so his timeline is different from McClellin's and Mitchell's.
McClellin played in 17 games last season, including playoffs, and he finished the season with the second-most snaps of any Patriots linebacker behind Dont'a Hightower. McClellin has the ability to be a versatile piece for Belichick's defense, with experience both off the line and on the edge, and he has been a core special-teamer.
Tragedy struck the city of Weymouth Sunday morning when police officer Michael Chesna was killed in the line of duty and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was quick to offer his condolences.
According to WCVB, Kraft stopped by the Weymouth Police Department Headquarters around noontime on Sunday and gave them “words of encouragement.”
Chesna, 42, was killed responding to a call regarding an erratic driver near South Shore Hospital and words of support have been quick to come from all corners of the state, and beyond.
“His death is a senseless tragedy & I ask you to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Gov. Charlie Baker via Twitter.
Police have identified a suspect in the shooting as 20-year-old Emanuel Lopes from Weymouth has been taken into police custody.
In an interview with The Big Lead, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long spoke on the drama surrounding Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
It's safe to say he doesn't put much stock into it.
I just think any NFL team, any NFL locker room under a lot of stress over a year period, there are going to be storylines people can choose to kind of blow out of proportion or not pay attention to. I think everyone’s going to pay attention to sometimes really small issues. Whatever people are alluding to going on up there hasn’t affected their play, it hasn’t affected their bottom line. It hasn’t affected how they executed on Sundays.
Long played with the Patriots during the 2016 season and won Super Bowl 51 with them before signing a two-year contract with the Eagles. The Eagles then went on to beat New England in Super Bowl 52. If anyone outside of the Patriots' locker room has an idea of the culture inside the past two years, Long has to be one of them.
It took everything for us to beat them. It took a heroic performance by Nick Foles and we had to play our best game. So while everybody likes to always point to the Patriots as being under duress or there’s some drama in the locker room, there’s drama in every locker room that you could blow out of proportion. They’re just on top and those stories sell because they’ve been so great.
ESPN's Seth Wickersham released a story detailing some of the issues that arose in New England over the past few years in January, and with Brady missing almost all of the Patriots' voluntary workouts last month, some have started to wonder whether this is the end for one of both of Brady-Belichick.
While their hasn't been much public acknowledgement from either side about the drama, but Long certainly doesn't see much substance to the noise.