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Collins' presence a welcome sign at practice

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Jamie Collins is another step closer to full strength.

After missing the past three games and numerous practices in that time due to an unspecified illness, the Patriots linebacker was finally able to suit up for practice on Friday. It was his first on-field action for New England since Nov. 6. Whether Collins is fit enough to dress for or even play in Sunday night's contest at Denver, however, remains to be seen.

The same can also be said for wide receiver Danny Amendola, who injured his left knee against Buffalo on Monday night. He was also at Friday's practice after having taken part on a limited basis the day before. Amendola also attended the team's walkthrough practice on Wednesday.

"Definitely nice to see Danny out there," wide receiver Brandon LaFell told reporters Friday afternoon. "He's one of the guys that produces for us a lot, starting last year with the playoff run we had, all through this season. He's making plans week in and week out. He makes everybody's job easier." 

Meanwhile, Amendola's fellow wide out, Aaron Dobson, is now done for the 2015 season. The Patriots placed him on injured reserve on Thanksgiving Day, just three days removed from his suffering a left ankle injury versus Buffalo. To fill Dobson's vacancy on the 53-man roster, New England re-signed safety Dewey McDonald. And in a reported transaction, the club also released linebacker Eric Martin so they could promote tight end Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. 

Difficulty in Denver

The Mile High City is a notoriously tough place for most Broncos opponents, including New England. Not only is the stadium one of the loudest in the NFL, the thin atmosphere makes breathing more difficult for those not accustomed to it.

"It's definitely a tough place to play," TE Rob Gronkowski agreed. "You know their fans are going to be electric come Sunday night. It's always just tough going on the road and playing in the NFL on the road, so definitely going to be a challenge going out there and playing at Mile High this week."

"It's definitely got great energy," added DE/co-captain Rob Ninkovich. "The crowd's into it. The air thing… I don't even really think about it. Just got to go out there and play and worry about being tired when you get to the sidelines."

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