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Quick Kicks: Wed 12/26 practice & locker room notes [with Pro Bowl update]

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By the time they got out there this afternoon, most of the heavy rains that soaked the area overnight and through the morning had dissipated.

The Patriots were inside their Dana-Farber Field House for a walk-through practice to begin Dolphins Week. They've been doing that the past few Wednesdays, presumably to help the very banged up roster to heal up some.

Every player on the roster was present, including defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham, who has just returned from a four-game NFL suspension for violating the performance-enhancing substance policy.

Head coach Bill Belichick told reporters earlier today that tight end Rob Gronkowski (left forearm/hip) has been making progress since returning to practice a couple of weeks ago, but that he's "not ready yet."

"[T]hose are really decisions that are made medically. If players are ready to play [in games], we play them. If they're not, then we don't," Belichick explained. I don't think that's a decision a coach makes or influences; that's a medical decision, if it's medical situation. Once it's a competitive decision, then that's a coaching decision. If it's a medical decision, then that's made by medical people."

Two of the four players released on Christmas Eve are back on the team's practice squad: wide receiver Kamar Aiken and fullback James Develin. In addition, safety Cyhl Quarles was re-signed to the p-squad. He spent a couple of weeks there back in September, but has been out of the NFL since.

New England still has one spot remaining on its 53-man active roster.

Locker room media interviews are scheduled to begin at 4:30 Eastern today.

UPDATE… 5:47 p.m.

For the first time since breaking his left forearm, Gronkowski spoke to reporters. The tight end said he's glad to be practicing again, but would not say if he'll play Sunday versus the Dolphins.

New England has 21 players listed on the injury report this week, two more than last. All were "limited" in today's walkthrough, including newcomers cornerback Marquice Cole (finger) and rookie safety Nate Ebner (hamstring).

UPDATE.. 8:07 p.m.

Seven Patriots were named to the Pro Bowl this evening: On offense, QB/co-captain Tom Brady, Gronk, WR Wes Welker, and left guard/co-captain Logan Mankins; the defense had two players, both captains, in LB Jerod Mayo and DT Vince Wilfork; special teams captain Matthew Slater also made it on the strength of his acumen in the third phase of the game.

All but Gronk and Welker reacted to the news tonight. Not surprisingly, they tried to deflect focus off of themselves and onto their teammates and this week's game against Miami.

"It is flattering to be selected, but I have always considered Pro Bowl recognition as a reflection of the team's overall success," Brady said. "I am happy for my many teammates who were selected again this year. I know that there are many others who are equally deserving of the opportunity. One day, I am sure I will have a greater appreciation for individual accomplishments, but this week my focus is simply on our preparations for Miami."

"We have a lot of guys who earned the honor this year, so that is pretty cool," added Mankins. "It's always nice to have your peers, coaches and fans select you to the Pro Bowl. Getting voted in is always a reflection of our team success. While I do appreciate this recognition, we need to get ready and keep our focus on the game this week against Miami."

"To be selected to my fifth Pro Bowl is amazing," Wilfork acknowledged. "I am honored and humbled. More importantly, I am proud that the other guys on my team are getting the recognition they deserve."

"It's an honor to be recognized by my peers, the coaches and the fans," Mayo began, "but it's more of an honor to be one of seven of my teammates going to Hawaii, since that is a reflection of our overall team success. We'll all enjoy the recognition tonight with our families and be right back to focusing on the Dolphins in the morning."

"I am very thankful to be selected to the Pro Bowl. God has blessed me with this opportunity and the ability to stay healthy," remarked Slater. "I have a lot of people to thank. An honor like this does not come without your teammates next to you making plays. I want to thank Coach Belichick for believing in me and taking a chance on me so I can live out my childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. Coach Scott O'Brien has pretty much changed my career with the way he teaches and coaches me [on special teams]. I also need to thank [assistant] Joe Judge for what he has been able to teach me."

Of course, none of the Patriots Pro Bowlers actually wants to play in the game, which takes place the weekend before the Super Bowl. Players who are on Super Bowl squads are exempt from playing in the league's all-star game in Hawai'i.

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