As reported earlier today, the New England Patriots have activated linebacker Dont'a Hightower off their PUP list. The team captain was sidelined almost a month and his return to the field will add considerable talent and versatility to the defense. Hightower is not the only player to return to the practice fields today, though.
As has been reported by multiple media members present at today's session, the following Patriots also were spotted:
RB Mike Gillislee
OT Nate Solder
OT LaAdrian Waddle
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.
LB Elandon Roberts
SS Brandon King
Nate Solder is the biggest name on the list above. The 29-year has been held out of full practice participation since August 3 and has been a no-show for both of the Patriots' preseason games. His return will now add considerable talent and experience to New England's young but promising offensive line. The other four players on the list have also dealt with injuries recently.
LaAdrian Waddle and Deatrich Wise Jr. have both missed Saturday's game against the Houston Texans due to concussions, while Roberts left the contest with what later turned out to be a rib injury. The second-year linebacker has been spotted in a red non-contact jersey during today's practice – as was core special teamer Brandon King, who also returned to practice after being absent the last two weeks.
Mike Gillislee, as noted above, was also spotted wearing pads. However, his degree of participation – he has been held out of team drills since August 2 – is not known as only the first minutes of the session were visible to reporters. Still, seeing him on the field is a positive sign and shows that the Patriots are slowly getting back to near-full strength with opening night a mere 16 days away.