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Kelly, Washington, even Vereen practicing again

News from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots prepare for their next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a rarity in any season, particularly one fraught with injuries, the Patriots had perfect attendance at practice Wednesday.

That meant the returns not only of running back/return specialist Leon Washington (ankle) and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (right knee), both of whom have been out since the Cincy game in Week 5, but also running back Shane Vereen (left wrist), who remains on IR/designated to return.

After the team stretching period, Kelly and Vereen took part in their respective position drills. Kelly was sporting a large black brace on his knee and looked to be moving at about half-speed. Vereen, with a black wrapping or soft cast over his gloved left hand, was active in a ball-security drill, trying to strip the football from a teammate with his bad hand.

Washington, meanwhile, went with a strength and conditioning coach to the far end of the practice fields to work on running backwards on an incline up a small slope.

In what has become a routine for him, running back Brandon Bolden (knee) rode an exercise bike during the stretching period. When that concluded, Bolden joined his position group and linebacker Brandon Spikes took over for him on the bike. Spikes had been a regular bike rider earlier in the season.

We also got our first look at new defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, for whom the Patriots traded yesterday. The 32-year-old veteran is wearing jersey number 90.

The news is status quo for New England's two non-football injury list (NFI) players, d-lineman Armond Armstead (infection) and WR Mark Harrison (foot). Head coach Bill Belichick told reporters this morning that there would be no change in their statuses, at least not today. The Patriots have two more weeks, after this one, to decide whether or not to begin practicing Armstead and/or Harrison. If they are eventually cleared to practice, the Patriots can then activate either or both to the active roster anytime within three weeks from when they start practicing.

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