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Ridley returns to practice; three others absent

News from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots prepare for their next opponent, the New Orleans Saints.

A mix of good and bad news greeted the Patriots upon their return to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium Wednesday.

First, the good.

Running back Stevan Ridley was back in uniform (the team was in shells today) after missing all of last week's workouts and the Bengals game with a knee injury. Without him in Cincinnati, the Patriots rushed for just 82 yards total.

Now, the bad.

Three of Ridley's teammates were missing, including backfield mate Leon Washington, who sustained an ankle injury on the opening kickoff in Cincinnati. D-tackle Tommy Kelly also was among the missing. He'd suffered a right knee injury late in that game, returned for a play or two, then left for good. In addition, rookie defensive end Michael Buchanan was not on the field at the start of today's practice. It's unclear why, but the injury/practice participation report that's released around 4 p.m. should give us a better idea.

With Kelly out for an indefinite period, the team has signed veteran defensive tackle Aaron Neblett, who has played in Carolina and Tampa previously.New England desperately needs depth at that position, with the recent season-ending injury to Vince Wilfork, now Kelly's issue. Before adding Neblett, the Patriots had just two healthy d-tackles on the 53 – rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones – along with first-year man Marcus Forston and rookie A.J. Francis on the practice squad.

Meanwhile, cornerback Marquice Cole continues to enter Gillette through the revolving door. The last two Fridays, he's been released by the team in what is clearly a roster necessity. Cole has been dealing with a hamstring injury that's limited his availability in practice. New England has needed to activate a player from the practice squad (safety Kanorris Davis) both times to fill his spot on game day.

Cole was re-signed to the 53 earlier this week, while Davis and linebacker Ja'Gared Davis, both of whom were elevated in Cincinnati, are now back on the practice squad.

No black jerseys were given out this week. Those Practice Player of the Week distinctions are only awarded after victories.

Players will be available for media interviews following practice, beginning around 12:30 with QB Tom Brady's weekly press conference.


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