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David Andrews among three starters to return to Patriots practice on Thursday

Related: Patriots’ O-line depth comes into focus as David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn miss second straight practice

NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

After a day off on Wednesday, the New England Patriots’ players hit the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium again today for their third session of the week — one that saw the return of three core players who had previously been out: offensive linemen David Andrews and Isaiah Wynn were back after missing Monday’s and Tuesday’s sessions, while cornerback J.C. Jackson returned following an absence during at least the early parts of Tuesday’s practice.

Andrews and Wynn being back is obviously good news not just for New England’s offensive line but also the two players as well. After all, they do have a serious injury history between them: Andrews missed all of last season after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs; Wynn spent his entire 2018 rookie campaign on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles tendon before also missing eight weeks in 2019 due to a toe injury suffered in September.

Them being back should put any speculation about their availability heading into September 13’s season opener against the Miami Dolphins to rest. Meanwhile, the offensive line returns to some level of stability again.

The Patriots already had to watch right tackle Marcus Cannon opt out of the 2020 season in late July, leading to Jermaine Eluemunor being inserted into the starting lineup as his replacement. Andrews and Wynn being out, meanwhile, created opportunities for the team’s depth options at their respective spots: interior offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt and Tyler Gauthier as well as offensive tackles Korey Cunningham, Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste.

As for J.C. Jackson, meanwhile, he is projected to again see considerable action within the Patriots’ defensive backfield as the unit’s second/third option at cornerback alongside number one Stephon Gilmore. Coming off the best season of his young career, the former undrafted free agent is not just a candidate to see regular snaps yet again but also to position himself to maybe receive the first-round restricted free agency tender next offseason.

While Andrews, Wynn and Jackson returning to the practice fields is good news for New England, eight players were still not spotted: running back Damien Harris, wide receiver Gunner Olszewski, defensive tackles Beau Allen, Nick Thurman and Michael Barnett, linebackers Tashawn Bower and De’Jon Harris, and cornerback Michael Jackson were not on the field during the early portion of practice open to the media.

Olszewski is a new addition to the list of absentees, while Harris is recovering from a finger injury that has already kept him out from the last two practices as well.

Eight players being out is a comparatively large number, but speculation about the reasoning behind their absences is rather fruitless at the moment. We only know that the Patriots will have to release their first injury report of the season next Wednesday, while they also have to trim their roster to 53 players by Saturday’s 4pm deadline — either through releasing players or by putting them on their injured reserve list.