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Pats welcome some back, miss others; Mon. notes

Heavy rains and strong winds forced the Patriots to move their practice indoors Monday, but the forecast for Thursday night's preseason home game versus the St. Louis Rams looks sunny, warm, and dry.

New England got some more good news today, though, as cornerback Leigh Boddenand linebacker Gary Guytonwere among a half-dozen Patriots defenders who returned to the practice field Monday after missing several workouts. Linebackers Tully Banta-Cain, Thomas Williams, and Dane Fletcher, as well as defensive lineman Damione Lewis, were the others.

This marked Bodden's first time in uniform since August 5, when he was sidelined with a knee injury incurred during a pass-rushing drill. A relieved Bodden spoke with reporters after Monday's practice.

"Yeah, definitely happy to be back out there. It's been a long … feels like months since I've been out there," he said, "but it's good to come out here and see how it feels and just get back going where I left off."

Bodden has missed both of New England's first two preseason games, and while he wouldn't offer an guarantees, he sounded optimistic about suiting up this Thursday night against St. Louis.

"Felt pretty good. I'm just working to get it better. Today is just one step toward that. No timetable, just when it feels good. Everybody's body is different.

"I'm always prepared. Mentally, always," Bodden added. "I prepare everyday like I'm going to play. It's definitely important to get out there and feel the game speed. I'll be ready no matter when it is. Just gotta get my knee back right and I'll be fine."

Guyton, who played college football in Atlanta at Georgia Tech, admitted he was disappointed he couldn't take the field last week in front of a familiar crowd.

"You always want to play. That's what I'm here for. I love football," said Guyton. "You always want to play for your home, your town, your state, but I just had to do the best I could and take it day by day."

In his absence, it seems that rookie Brandon Spikeshas benefited in terms of the amount of reps he's seen next to Jerod Mayo at inside linebacker. Guyton, a 16-game starter for New England last season, insists, however, that he's not coming back for his third season with any preconceived notions or expectations.

"It's a competitive sport and we're all competitive with each other. I'm just coming out here and working. Whatever role it'll have to be today, I'll do. Everyday is a competitive day that I look forward to."

He also wouldn't venture a guess on whether he'd play against the Rams or not.

"I came out here and played the speed I play. We'll see how it goes."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the football, the Patriots offense took a bit of a hit on the injury front, as several players did not dress or take part in Monday's practice. Wide receivers Julian Edelmanand Matthew Slaterweren't seen at all, nor were offensive lineman Nick Kaczur(who reportedly underwent back surgery recently), defensive backBret Lockett, rookie defensive lineman Kade Weston.

However, wideout Darnell Jenkins, tackle Mark LeVoir, and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandezworked with the team's medical staff on rehab exercises along the sideline during practice. Linebackers Eric Alexanderand rookie Jermaine Cunninghamalso worked with that group. Guard Logan Mankinsremains unsigned.

Monday Practice Notes

The Patriots made a few transactions Monday, completing a rumored trade with Atlanta for backup o-lineman Quinn Ojinnaka(6-5, 299; 5th year, from Syracuse). He was at practice Monday wearing jersey number 68 and even got a few reps in at left tackle during 11-on-11 action late in the session. To make room for Ojinnaka, New England released rookie corner Terrence Johnson, who'd been injured/rehabbing for nearly all of training camp.

Another interesting sight was the return of number 41, Ross Ventrone. The rookie safety from Villanova was cut August 15, but was back in uniform Monday. As of 4 p.m., the team hadn't officially announced Ventrone's return, or which player on the roster was removed to make room for him.

Monday's workout was a helmets-shorts-and-shells affair inside the Dana-Farber Field House. For detailed observations on what took place, visit the PFW Blog.

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