The few inches of snow that fell yesterday were plowed off the grass field behind Gillette, so, that's where the Patriots held their practice today.
Rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard returned to action. He missed Wednesday's workout because he had to attend legal proceedings in Nebraska stemming from a pre-draft incident in which he was charged.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (left forearm) was the only player absent at the start of today's session. He was officially placed on injured reserve by the team late this afternoon, ending his post-season and opening up a spot on the 53-man active roster.
During a ball security drill, head coach Bill Belichick tried to strip the ball away from WR Brandon Lloyd. Belichick swiped so hard at Lloyd that he knocked his receiver to the turf.
In the locker room afterward, rookie DE Chandler Jones (ankle) told reporters he's "doing everything I possibly can" to play Sunday versus Baltimore. He was limited in his practice participation today.
Running back Danny Woodhead (left thumb), CB Marquice Cole (left pinkie), OL Nick McDonald (right shoulder), and DE Trevor Scott (knee) were upgraded to full participation after being limited on Wednesday.
Co-captain Devin McCourty is as familiar with Ravens running back Ray Rice as any Patriot. The two were teammates at Rutgers and grew up 20-25 minutes away from each other in New Jersey. "That was our guy in college. He made a lot of big plays for us and when we watched as he went into the NFL. I think we were all excited for him. You never know what's going to happen, but I don't think there were many guys in college that doubted he was going to be a big success in the NFL… Just maybe because he is so small, he has great balance and leg strength that allows him to break a lot of tackles."
Patriots-Ravens games are often very physical contests, with lots of pushing and shoving after the whistle. It's not uncommon to see left guard Logan Mankins right in the thick of those fracases. So, I asked the co-captain about his feistiness on the field during games, which is in direct contrast to his gregarious personality off the field. "It's just who I am I guess. That's the only way I know how to play and I'm going to keep doing it until they tell us we can't. I don't really have a good answer for you on that one."
LB Brandon Spikes said his performance in Week 3 against the Ravens was his worst this season… a comment that drew the following humorous response from an eavesdropping Jerod Mayo: "True!" Spikes erupted in laughter.
When he composed himself, Spikes added, on a serious note, that he wasn't as prepared for that game as he should have been. "That wasn't the Brandon Spikes I know," he declared.
Kevin Faulk made a brief appearance in the locker room after practice. The former Patriots running back will serve as an honorary captain, along with former left tackle Matt Light, for New England on Sunday.