The Patriots returned to the practice field Monday after a full weekend off. It was their first workout since training camp officially concluded last week. From here on out, the team will no longer hold public practices, and media will only be allowed a short window at the start to watch, unlike the full viewing privileges enjoyed during camp.
Here are some other noteworthy observations from today's action at Gillette Stadium:
…The most notable absence from practice was that of veteran wideout Danny Amendola. He had a sensational touchdown last Friday against Tampa Bay and spoke to reporters afterward at his locker. He did not appear to have been injured during the game. It's unclear why Amendola wasn't out there during the media viewing portion today.
…On a positive note, veteran TE Daniel Fells returned to action after missing time last week, including the Tampa game, with an apparent shoulder issue.
…In addition, veteran DB Devin McCourty finally shed the red (non-contact) jersey he'd worn all throughout spring and summer practices. He, too, had been dealing with a shoulder problem lingering from last season.
…Other players not present for the start of practice: rookie wide receiver Mark Harrison (NFI/foot), rookie cornerback Brandon Jones, tight end Rob Gronkowski (PUP/arm, back), defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, and defensive lineman Armond Armstead (NFI/illness).
…Prior to today's session, the team released a trio of players: veteran LB A.J. Edds, rookie offensive lineman R.J. Mattes, and rookie defensive lineman Scott Vallone.
…New England's 90-man preseason roster now stands at 84. However, with first cuts approaching next Tuesday, it's conceivable that the Patriots won't rush to fill those six vacancies. Head coach Bill Belichick ruled nothing out, though, in pre-practice remarks to the media. "If we find a player we want to fill them with, we could. We don't have like six guys flying in here tonight to be out there tomorrow. But if something comes up that we feel like there's a player we want to take a look at or we feel like can help us, we can just put them on the roster without having to do anything. If not, then we're prepared to go with what we've got."
...Players, including QB Tom Brady, are expected to answer reporters' questions following this afternoon's practice.