TAMPA – After one of the quickest turnarounds ever from a game to a full-pads practice, the Patriots are back to business at this hour. Right now, the team is on the field for a joint practice session with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their opponent this Friday in the third preseason game for both clubs.
The morning got underway at 8:30 with a press briefing by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, followed by the start of practice at 9 a.m. at Bucs headquarters, in the shadow of Raymond James Stadium.
Unlike training camp practices, which have now officially concluded for the season, we are only allowed a limited time to watch practice here in Tampa over the next couple of days. Here, however, are some important observations from this morning's brief window:
Good news on the injury front for New England. Six players returned to full-pads action, including tackle Sebastian Vollmer and tight end Daniel Fells, both of whom had been on PUP the entire summer. In addition, we saw rookie DBs Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson (left ankle) back at it. In Dennard's case, he hadn't taken part in a practice since the first week of camp (unclear what his injury was), though he'd been rehabbing and in attendance on the field each days since. Wilson suited up again after missing last Friday's practice and the Eagles game Monday night. He'd tweaked his ankle last Thursday in camp.
Fullback Spencer Larsen and safety James Ihedigbo rounded out the list of players back on the field.
On the down side, safety Patrick Chung was among the nine Patriots not on the field Wednesday. He was hurt in the first quarter of Monday's loss to Philadelphia with what initially appeared to be concussion-like symptoms, but later was officially announced as a shoulder ailment. The rest of the missing were no surprise: WR Jabar Gaffney (right leg or hip); linebacker Tracy White (unknown); o-linemen Matt Kopa rookie Markus Zusevics (pectoral/NFI); tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Jake Ballard (knee/PUP); and defensive linemen Myron Pryor (shoulder/PUP) and Gerard "Big Money" Warren.
Rookie RB/KR Jeff Demps (pictured) took part in his first workout as a Patriot. He struggled a bit handling the football on simulated bouncing kickoffs and catching the ball in warm-up drills. He later got more comfortable, and looked good hitting the tackling sled.
Veteran DB Will Allen left the practice field, limping slightly, with a member of the team's medical staff just minutes after practice began.
Players, including QB Tom Brady, are scheduled to speak with reporters after practice. A full recap of today's activity will be posted later on patriots.com.