It's not all sadness and storm clouds in crestfallen New England as CB Aqib Talib and WR Danny Amendola both returned to full-pads practice this afternoon. While each player needs to make significant progress in order to be cleared for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins, some mid-week repetitions certainly bode well for their availability.
Talib is arguably the biggest piece to the Patriot puzzle after missing last weekend's game against the New York Jets due to a hip flexor. His health is paramount going forward on a team that has made noticeable strides on the defensive side of the ball. Talib has been the model of consistency in a New England secondary that is typically anything but, recording four interceptions and exemplifying shut-down sensibilities in the first half of the season. Talib did miss Wednesday and Thursday's practices leading up to the Jets game, but a Friday return coupled with no set backs this week would point to him being a go on Sunday.
Amendola has looked spectacular in bursts, but the biggest knock surrounding his acquisition has reared its ugly head seven games in. Soon after Amendola looked to be rehabilitating nicely from a nagging groin injury, he took a crippling helmet-to-helmet hit during week six that sidelined him indefinitely with a concussion. Amendola's presence on the practice field is a good omen, but he'll still need to pass the NFL's thorough concussion testing in order to be cleared for Sunday.
Meanwhile, DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and KR/RB Leon Washington (ankle) have yet to return to the practice field.