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Hooman returns to practice; three others absent

The Patriots got some good news today when they returned to practice, as tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (left knee, injured at Carolina) suited up for the first time since getting hurt in the Monday nighter at Charlotte.

Hooman was clearly wearing some extra protection around his left knee underneath his full-length sweatpants. He participated in the opening drill of practice, after stretching period, but was not able to move around completely. For instance, when the backs, receivers, and tight ends ran through a bag drill, he followed them, but when the group was made to hop through the bags, he couldn't. He continued to run through the bags very gently.

Meanwhile, three other Patriots were not on the field for today's workout: o-lineman Marcus Cannon (right ankle, injured against Denver), linebacker Brandon Spikes (left knee), and rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot, unclear which one, also injured versus the Broncos).

Spikes was a game-time decision two games ago against Denver and wound up playing, as he did against Houston this past Sunday. But he has been visibly slowed by his injury, so, it's not too surprising that he wasn't on the field today. Neither Cannon nor Dobson played against Houston.

Another rookie receiver, Kenbrell Thompkins, injured his left hip during the Texans game, but he was on the practice field today, along with starting right cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who was inactive against Houston because of a knee issue.

Back to that opening drill for a moment. The skill position offensive players were running over bags while toting a football, and the assistant coaches and equipment staff were trying to knock the ball loose – gauntlet-style – by swiping at the ball with their arms cushioned by padding. It was noteworthy that running back Stevan Ridley was leading the way. He was inactive at Houston, presumably because he's lost several fumbles this season.

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