The New England Patriots needed some good news on player health, especially after moving to place receivers Brandon Gibson and Brian Tyms on the injured reserve, and with the negative prognosis about rookie cornerback Darryl Roberts' wrist.
Well, here it is. There have been a wave of players returning to the Patriots practice.
On offense, receivers Julian Edelman and Aaron Dobson have made it back to practice, along with tight end Scott Chandler and running back Travaris Cadet. On the offensive line, Ryan Wendell has been removed from the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list, and Caylin Hauptmann has been removed from the non-football-injury list.
On defense, rookie edge defender Trey Flowers made it back to the field after a week off for an unknown issue (ESPN's Mike Reiss believes it to be a concussion).
Currently, just receiver Brandon LaFell, linebacker Dane Fletcher, and defensive lineman Chris Jones remain on the PUP list, and LaFell looks to be close to a return and Jones was in the locker room for the first time in a long time.
The return of these players is crucial because this Friday's preseason game against the Panthers is the last time for Tom Brady to really get a chance to play live action with the starting offense. The snowball effect will likely relegate Chris Harper to the second unit, especially with the addition of Reggie Wayne, and Chandler and Rob Gronkowski might get to see some time on the field.
On the offensive line, it's possible that Shaq Mason and Tre Jackson will continue to hold down the left and right guard starting spots, respectively, as Wendell regains his football form, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Wendell moved into the left guard position as Mason continues to become more well-rounded as a blocker.
On defense, Flowers is just a lot of fun to watch and he adds to an already dangerously deep rotation of defensive line talent.
Welcome back to the players and let's all root for their continued health.