Just two players weren't on the Patriots practice field Wednesday, but one was perhaps not whom you would have expected.
Quarterback and newly-named co-captain Tom Brady was not with his teammates when practice began around 1 o'clock Eastern. Brady was somewhat surprisingly not on last week's injury report after taking a hard hit to his right knee in the Seattle game. He spoke after that contest about being a bit sore from the hit.
Then, this past Sunday in San Francisco, there was a point in the game when he appeared to limp off the field, although he managed to play the entirety of the contest. It's of course possible that his absence wasn't at all injury-related, however, anytime he's not taking part in a team workout, it's noteworthy.
Special teams co-captain Matthew Slater was the other absentee on Wednesday. He suffered a left foot injury in the 49ers game and did not play at all in the second half as a result.
Meanwhile, tight end/co-captain Rob Gronkowski, who was left behind on the San Fran trip due to a chest injury, was back in uniform today after missing all of last week's on-field activity. An ESPN report earlier Wednesday suggested that Gronkowski would not play this coming Sunday against the Jets, but he took part at least on a limited basis in Wednesday's practice.
Also on the field today, defensive tackle Alan Branch, who is reportedly in the midst of an appeal of his four-game NFL suspension for a failed drug test.
In a change from what has been their normal 2016 routine, the Patriots donned full pads for their Wednesday practice session. Typically, the team has eased into the work week by wearing shells on Wednesdays, full pads on Thursdays, and shells again on Friday. With the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, that may have altered practice plans a bit.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy had a solid start to his Patriots career this past Sunday against San Francisco. The veteran suited up for his first game since being traded to New England at the end of last month and celebrated by registering his first sack as a Patriot.
He declined to speak about it immediately after the game so that he could spend some time with family who were in attendance, but granted a brief audience to reporters on Wednesday.
"It was good. I was happy to play, happy to contribute," he said of his debut.
Van Noy was deactivated for his first two games in Weeks 8 and 10 while he embarked on a crash course of the Patriots playbook. It's been "a lot of work," he admitted, but is grateful that he's getting a chance to rush the passer more with New England than he did with his former club, the Detroit Lions.
"It's a blessing to be wanted," he added, "a blessing to be part of a 53-man roster in the NFL. I'm happy to be here and do whatever it takes to win."
Van Noy wasn't the only Patriot giving thanks a day before the official holiday. Several of his teammates shared their thoughts on the Thanksgiving holiday before going out to practice Wednesday.
DE Chris Long said his plans for the day are to "hang out with my little family and watch some football."
"I'm thankful for everything," declared CB Malcolm Butler. "Enjoy some good food [tomorrow] and back to football."
It appears the Patriots will be at work for a bit on Thursday before getting to enjoy some quality time with loved ones.
"We'll have some time later in the day to have the Thanksgiving that we all love," WR Danny Amendola revealed. "Just spend time with family and give thanks."
Amendola, whose had his share of injuries throughout his NFL career, said being in good health is what he's most thankful for this year.
Favorite Thanksgiving food items?
"I'm going to have to go with turkey and gravy," replied rookie WR Malcolm Mitchell.
My mom's stuffing is awesome," declared Amendola with a big smile.