Demaryius Thomas Injury Timeline: Could WR Return Sooner Than Expected

The Demaryius Thomas the New England Patriots signed Tuesday isn't the same guy who posted five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

He turned 31 on December 25, a day after being placed on the Houston Texans' injured reserve with a torn Achilles. There's a chance he won't even begin the 2019 season on the Patriots' active roster.

As NFL Network's James Palmer reported Tuesday, though, there appears to be optimism in New England about Thomas' recovery timeline.

From my understanding Thomas is expected to be available sooner than most believe he will be. I would guess the Patriots probably know this because McDaniels was around DT when his suffered his first Achilles and he came back in roughly 6 months.

— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) April 16, 2019

As Palmer points out, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was Thomas' head coach in Denver when the wide receiver first tore his Achilles in February 2011. Many expected Thomas to miss most of the 2011 season, but he returned ahead of schedule in late October and played in 11 games that season.

Thomas is eight years older this time around, so a similar eight-month recovery seems aggressive. But if the wide receiver is able to return in, say, nine or 10 months, he could be ready around the start of the 2019 season and possibly even join the Patriots for their season opener.

But New England also could opt to play it safe with Thomas, placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season and viewing him more as a mid-season acquisition -- à la Josh Gordon in 2018 -- to bolster a Julian Edelman-led receiving corps.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Demaryius Thomas injury timeline: Could WR return sooner than expected?
Here’s who the Patriots brought in for workouts this week
Fantasy Fool: The top 60 wide receivers
Top 20 rookies in 2018 fantasy football
Fantasy: Reviewing the WR landscape after 2018
NFL Draft grades: Best, worst of 2018 picks
Highly rated WRs have found it tough to catch on with Patriots
Patriots, Goodell lament path of WR Gordon
100 NFL predictions that will frame 2016 season