The Patriots practiced on a rare in-season Tuesday, but even more rare is the full week off that the team has been given by head coach Bill Belichick. New England's bye week falls this weekend, and the Patriots don't play again till Monday night, Nov. 18, in Charlotte. They'll be back on the practice field next Tuesday, at the earliest (no schedule for next week has yet been announced).
Today's session was in full pads today, and defensive end Rob Ninkovich was suited up and taking part. When last we saw him in uniform, he was pacing the sidelines during the second half of the Steelers game after being treated for a foot injury. It appeared as if he was healthy enough to return, but by that point, the game was out of reach and he was likely kept out for precautionary reasons.
During bye weeks, NFL clubs are not required to submit injury reports, and teams playing on Monday nights release theirs on Thursday, rather than the standard Wednesday report. So, we won't have details on Ninkovich's practice participation level for another nine days.
However, in the locker room after today's workout, Ninkovich said he didn't "want to get into specifics" about the injury, but that he was "feeling good."
"It's something that with having a week off, I'm sure I'll feel even better next week and running around and doing whatever it is as far as a week of recovery."
The week of rest will be good for not just the body, but the mind as well, Ninkovich noted.
"For everybody, it's a good time for us to keep working on the bodies to get to 100 percent, because during the season, you have your ups and downs – feeling good, getting a little beat up…
"You don't want to get away too much," he explained, "you know, because we still have a long season to go, and you want to be dialed in to what we're doing. I think you just take a couple days here to unwind and get back into it. You don't want not to work out and just sit on your butt the whole time. I think guys are still going to be doing some things around here, getting ready for the Monday night game coming up. It's going to be a big game."
Other notes from practice: safety Steve Gregory was not out there. He left the Steelers game with a thumb injury and did not return. Running back Brandon Bolden was not seen, either, nor was wide receiver Austin Collie, who was later released. He suffered a knee injury in the win over Pittsburgh, which likely was the cause for his departure.
The Patriots added a couple of players to the roster. Wide receiver LaQuan Williams, a 25-year-old veteran who was previously with Baltimore, is now on the 53-man active roster. There was also an opening on the practice squad, which the team filled with rookie running back Cierre Wood. The 22-year-old Notre Dame product was with Houston earlier this year.