Sebastian Vollmer was among a half-dozen players were not on the field when the Patriots resumed practice on Wednesday. The left tackle injured his left ankle on the last play of New England's first drive of the Jets game this past Sunday and had to be carted off the MetLife Stadium field.
Vollmer didn't return to the game, but according to media reports, his injury is not believed to be serious enough to keep him out of playoff action come January. His availability for this Sunday's regular season finale in Miami, however, remains unclear.
Joining Vollmer on the absentee list today was defensive end/co-captain Rob Ninkovich, who appeared to injure his left shin during the Jets game but managed to continue playing. Linebackers Dont'a Hightower (left knee) and Jonathan Freeny (right hand), rookie cornerback Justin Coleman (left the Jets game with a concussion), and rookie defensive back Troy Hill were also not on the field Wednesday.
Meanwhile, safety Patrick Chung (foot) showed up to practice wearing a red, non-contact jersey. Chung was held out of the Jets game, but has been a regular participant in practice in recent weeks. This was the first time, though, that he was sporting the red jersey, which precludes teammates from hitting him during practice.
One of the absent players (likely Hill) might have been released because the Patriots re-signed defensive lineman Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and a roster spot would have needed to be opened to bring him back. Kitchen was back on the field wearing the number 70 he'd been given a couple of weeks back when he initially arrived. New England also re-signed rookie running back Joey Iosefa to the practice squad.
Rookies holding up well
Another player who was shaken up against New York this past Sunday was rookie safety Jordan Richards. In just his second NFL start, Richards had to leave the game during overtime, but only missed one play.
"I feel great," he said Wednesday when asked about the left shoulder issue.
Richards is one of several Patriots rookies who've not only contributed throughout the season, but has actually seen his role increase as the year has gone on. The so-called "rookie wall" has not seemed to impact these young player as it often does to others. Many players admit to hitting a burn-out zone at this time of year in their rookie campaigns because the NFL season is so much longer than what they'd been accustomed to in college.
"That's one thing the vets talk to me about," Richards continued, "is just make sure you're fresh, mentally and physically. So, that's your recovery work, getting your work in here in the playbook and film room, so that we can come back and be fresh the next day.
"Obviously, it's a longer season and you play repeat opponents [in the division] and there's more to absorb, information-wise and game plan-wise, but I'm just trying to do my best."
First-round draft choice Malcom Brown used air quotes when he mentioned the rookie wall, because he claimed he didn't even know what the phrase meant.
"I just keep on working. Go out to practice, enjoy being here," he told reporters.
There hasn't been a time when he's felt overwhelmed or exhausted by his job, he added.
"No. Got to reset that button every day."