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Patriots Wrap Up: Gronk returns, Cannon exits

A short turnaround from their road trip to Miami Monday night saw the Patriots get back to work on the practice field Wednesday. Less than 36 hours after returning to Foxborough, the team geared up for a walkthrough session at their indoor practice facility behind the stadium.

Tight end/co-captain Rob Gronkowski rejoined the squad after serving a week’s suspension by the NFL, and his fellow co-captain, QB Tom Brady, also appeared on the field. This is noteworthy because Brady has chosen to sit out the past three Wednesday practices to nurse an ailing Achilles heel.

On a discouraging note, the Patriots finally made a decision regarding the health status of right tackle Marcus Cannon. Last seen hobbling to the locker room with a left ankle injury that he suffered during the L.A. Chargers game in Week 8, Cannon saw his 2017 season officially end today when the Patriots placed him on injured reserve.

In Cannon’s absence, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming have picked up the slack. Waddle initially took over for Cannon, but when he, too, suffered an injury to his right ankle, Fleming had to step in the past two weeks.

“He’s been out for a little bit, and we’ve kind of been rolling with the guys we’ve got in here,” Waddle remarked Wednesday. “Whoever’s in there is going to do their best and prepare for whatever challenges we have.”

Waddle was a game-time decision in each of the past two contests. He was inactive at Buffalo, and although he suited up for the Miami game two nights ago, Waddle wasn’t deemed fit enough to start, so, Fleming got the nod yet again.

“That’s just how things worked out,” added Waddle. “We’ll see how it is this week.”

During the first quarter of that game Monday, defensive tackle Alan Branch sustained a right knee injury and couldn’t continue after sitting out a series and returning for just one play. He was not spotted at today’s walkthrough, and the re-signing of veteran Ricky Jean Francois might be an indication that Branch’s prognosis is not favorable.

New England also made a change at wide receiver, adding 6-3, 225-pound veteran Kenny Britt, whom the Browns released last week. The Patriots have reportedly expressed interest in Britt when he has been a free agent in the past, but the opportunity to sign the Rutgers product seems to have been right for both sides this time around. New England marks Britt’s fourth NFL team since entering the league as a first-round pick by Tennessee in 2009.

To make room for Jean Francois, Britt, and the return of Gronkowski, New England parted with linebacker Jonathan Freeny and wide receiver/punt returner Bernard Reedy, as well as the Cannon move to IR. Jean Francois was assigned the same jersey number 94 that he wore earlier this season. Britt will wear 85 for the Patriots.

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