Three days after their preseason dress rehearsal against the Detroit Lions, the New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium earlier today. The team did not have full perfect attendance as a total of eight players remain sidelined. However, the Patriots also received a boost as a) three yet-to-be-announced defensive edges were part of the session and b) two key players returned.
According to multiple media reports, special teams ace and team captain Matthew Slater was back in action, as was running back Rex Burkhead. Both are locks to survive roster cuts and are projected to play integral roles in the kicking game and on offense, respectively. Slater was not spotted since August 2, while Burkhead was a no-show all of last week.
In other good news, defensive edges Deatrich Wise Jr. and Geneo Grissom were full participants. The two linemen were spotted during last week's practices as well but did not join their teammates in drills; instead working on conditioning on a separate field.
Not all was positive, however: As noted above, eight players were not part of the media-portion of today's practice.
WR Julian Edelman
WR Malcolm Mitchell
OT Nate Solder
OT Antonio Garcia
DE Derek Rivers
LB Shea McClellin
LB Harvey Langi
SS Nate Ebner
All except Langi, who is fighting for a roster or practice squad spot, are locks to be on the Patriots' 2017 pay roll. However, not all of them will be on the team as Edelman and Rivers are expected to be placed on season-ending injured reserve in the near future due to knee injuries.