It appears Julian Edelman will be ready for the start of the regular season. But don't expect him much earlier than that.

The New England Patriots wide receiver broke his thumb three weeks ago while playing catch, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

While he's expected to be "fine" for Week 1, he should miss "a few more weeks" and may not appear in a Patriots preseason game, per Rapoport.

The Patriots placed Edelman on the non-football injury list Wednesday, but he's eligible to come off at any point.

It was first reported Monday that Edelman would miss three weeks with a thumb injury after he was spotted wearing a light brace on his left thumb at his youth football camp in Sudbury, Mass.

It's unclear exactly when the injury happened, but Edelman has been working extensively with quarterback Tom Brady this offseason and posted this photo of the two on July 1, three weeks ago Monday:

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Who wins this race? @tombrady

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

A three-week timeline in theory would allow the 33-year-old wideout to return for the second week of preseason, but New England likely will play it safe with Tom Brady's most trusted target, especially with a handful of new receivers behind Edelman -- rookie N'Keal Harry, Maurice Harris and Dontrelle Inman among them -- who can see increased reps in his absence.

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