New England has 13 players available to return from Injured Reserve, of the large corps of players placed on IR last season. It’s like a whole extra Draft. WR Julian Edelman – team’s top WR returns from ACL repair. He benefits from an entire year of rehab, since the injury occurred early in preaseason. WR Malcolm Mitchell – also an entire year to rehab, as his recovery from a knee injury was just short of making the active squad late in the year. TE Martellus Bennett – Bennett was banged up in his brief return to the Patriots. His $6mm compensation doesn’t have any dead money, and a decision is due soon with his upcoming $2mm roster bonus. OT Marcus Cannon – with Solder, Fleming, and Waddle all unrestricted free agents, critical to get Cannon back. OT Tony Garcia – the rookie third-rounder reportedly suffered from blood clots in his lungs, and has been on a recovery program that really dropped his weight. He seems to have a long road back to NFL shape. OT Andrew Jelks – missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons in college due to ACL injuries, and then the 2017 season on NFI. 21 starts at Vanderbilt, moving from RT to LT. Three full seasons off is a big hurdle for this undrafted rookie. DT Vincent Valentine – ended his rookie season with a heavy rotation at DT, and then also missed the entire 2017 campaign. Bigger run-stuffer than Guy or Butler; likely early-down starter in 2018. DE Derek Rivers – Rivers missed the 2017 season with a knee injury suffered in the preseason. He’s had a full year to recover, and could contribute in a rotation at DE. DE Keionta Davis – the small-school DE had 10.5 sacks, forced three fumbles, and blocked a punt as a senior, but then a bulging disc was identified at the Combine. He sat out, but also could be a contributor on the line and on special teams. LB Donta Hightower – the key to the defense; big blow when he was lost. Hopefully tanned, rested, and ready for 2018. LB Shea McClellin – one of the two priority IR candidates slated to return, and his stay on IR was a bit of a surprise at the time. Indications of multiple concussions make his availability in 2018 a lot less likely. CB Jonathan Jones – steadily improving quick slot corner got playing time over Eric Rowe, and then a late season injury contributed to problems in the secondary. Probably a top-three corner; would have been a huge upgrade over Jordan Richards or Jonathan Bademosi at slot in a recent game. CB Cyrus Jones – well, he didn’t fumble any punts in 2017. Big disappointment as a rookie, and then missed his second season.