Aug 24, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Steve Gregory (28) tackles Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Sammie Stroughter (18) after a reception during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay defeated New England 30-28. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
Patriots safety Steve Gregory was not found on the field on Sunday's full pads practice just outside Gillette Stadium. Meanwhile, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who wasn't at practice on Friday, was back in action on Sunday.
Gregory was one of four Patriots players missing from Sunday's session. Joining him were running backs Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead as well as tight end Visanthe Shaincoe. Vereen and Woodhead were nowhere to be found, while Shiancoe was spotted coming out of a team meeting with something supporting his right leg.
Gregory's projected running mate, Pat Chung, was back at practice wearing a non-contact red jersey after he missed Friday's practice. Defensive tackle Kyle Love was back in the action on Sunday, after missing Friday's session as well. Offensive Lineman Nick McDonald, who practiced fully on Friday, was spotted along the sidelines wearing sweats.
While the Patriots have a full week of practice before they travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans on Sunday, one can't help but at least think about what Gregory's absence means. The fact that the Patriots took just four safeties indicates that they think the Gregory, who left the team's third preseason game with a leg injury, will end up being ready to go. If not, look for Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson to get reps in his place if he's a no-go for Sunday.
As for the other guys missing, the running back corps was down to just Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden on Sunday. We knew about Vereen's injury beforehand, but not about Woodhead's. If both (more likely Vereen) are declared inactive for next Sunday's game, look for the undrafted Bolden to get more third-down opportunities.
For Shiancoe, this may be a telling sign that he won't be on the Active 53-man roster for long. I'm starting to believe that Belichick chose to keep Shiancoe on the roster, so he could put him on injured reserve in the coming days, and activate him after Week Six (as a part of the new IR rule). With the open spot, we could see someone like Deion Branch or Jabar Gaffney come back. But again, that's just me speculating
One side note from practice was regarding tight end Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez practiced fully on Sunday, but had to leave early. He was reportedly not with a training staff member of medical person, but was not present during the media access portion. Something to at least monitor for tomorrow's practice.