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Rookie QB Jacoby Brissett practices for first time as part of IR rule

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett practiced Wednesday for the first time since being placed on injured reserve Oct. 7, as he has been selected as the one player the club can bring off IR this season.

Brissett can practice for up to 21 days without counting on the 53-man roster. His return to practice adds an important layer of depth at quarterback, as Tom Brady has been held out of practice each of the past two Wednesdays. Jimmy Garoppolo has been taking the top reps in Brady's absence.

The right-handed Brissett underwent surgery on his right thumb in October. He filled in admirably for Garoppolo by starting games in the third and fourth week of the season (27-0 win over Houston; 16-0 loss to Buffalo).

The decision to start practicing Brissett was foreshadowed Tuesday when coach Bill Belichick was asked about him and said, "It is a possibility. Once you start the clock, when the clock ends you either have to obviously activate him or put him out for the year. You can start the clock any time you want, but once you start it, then you have to realize that there's a decision point.

"So the question is really, (A) when is he ready? And (B) do you want to start it? That's what the decision process is there and we just have to, again, based on the information we have, look at our situation and figure out what the best thing to do is."

In addition to Brissett, special-teams captain Matthew Slater returned to practice for the first time since injuring his left foot Nov. 20 at San Francisco.