It remains unclear why we didn't see Malcolm Butler on Wednesday, but the cornerback managed to appear, at least on a limited basis, on Thursday when the Patriots went back outside to practice.
His return highlighted a day of work that QB/co-captain Tom Brady once again sat out. He has now missed two consecutive on-field workouts, presumably with the Achilles heel injury that limited his practice participation the past two weeks.
The same can be said of linebacker Kyle Van Noy, who's dealing with a right calf issue that sprang up in the first Miami game two weeks ago. He has not suited up for either of New England's two practices this week – not an encouraging sign for his availability this Monday night at Miami.
Meanwhile, there's still no sign of right tackle Marcus Cannon (left ankle), nor defensive end Deatrich Wise, although the rookie was briefly spotted walking through the locker room yesterday. What's kept him out has yet to be divulged, but the first injury report of the week is scheduled to be unveiled later today.
Naturally, Rob Gronkowski has not been around this week, because the tight end is prevented from doing so under the terms of his NFL suspension. He'll be eligible to return to Gillette next Tuesday.
It's been an impressive start for Eric Lee. The defensive end has played in two games for the Patriots since being plucked from the Buffalo practice squad, and he already has a pair of sacks, an interception, and a pass defensed to his credit.
"I've just been focused on my preparation," Lee said Thursday. "The coaches have been helping me, making sure I'm consistent with my approach day in and day out… I was just making sure I was prepared, putting the extra time in."