Under a light rain, the Patriots went back on their practice field midday Wednesday to begin preparing for this week's visit to Orchard Park, N.Y., where they'll face the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
Not surprisingly, the list of absent players was a bit longer than normal after the number of injuries before and after last week's game at Chicago. Most notably, tight end Rob Gronkowski (ankle, back) and rookie running back Sony Michel did not appear during the roughly 15-minute viewing window for media at the beginning of the session.
Gronkowski didn't make the trip to Chicago due to back spasms that cropped up late last week, while Michel suffered what looked at first like a gruesome knee injury at the start of the second quarter of that game.
Subsequent media reports have indicated that neither player's injury is severe, and that Gronkowski might even be available for the game at Buffalo. It's possible that the team is being extra cautious in his case because the Patriots have an extra day to prepare for the Bills, given that the game is on Monday night. If reports are to be believed, we might not see Michel in the immediate future, but his case isn't thought to be a long-term concern.
Cornerback Eric Rowe aggravated a lingering groin injury against the Bears and was not on the practice field Wednesday. Neither was defensive end Deatrich Wise, though it's unclear exactly why.
Right tackle Marcus Cannon (concussion) didn't join his teammates on the main field today, but was spotted making his way to the lower practice field where injured players typically perform rehabilitation and conditioning exercises during practice.
In a positive development, rookie cornerback Duke Dawson suited up for the first time since the season began. He's been on injured reserve with a hamstring problem since early September, but is now eligible to begin practicing and could eventually be re-activated to the 53-man roster if the club feels he's fit enough over the next few weeks.
The team is not obligated to bring Dawson back, and it's conceivable that the second-round draft pick could wind up back on IR. You may recall that former wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell was in such a situation at the end of last season.
However, Dawson's presence today is an encouraging sign for his potential availability this season.
BB on Bojorquez
Bills rookie punter Corey Bojorquez entered the league this spring as an undrafted free agent with New England. The Patriots released him at the end of the summer after Bojorquez wasn't given an opportunity to showcase himself during preseason games.
That prompted some analysts to speculate that the Patriots might want to keep Bojorquez around on the practice squad. Asked directly about this on Wednesday, head coach Bill Belichick would neither confirm nor deny it.
"Well, we didn't really have that option. He was claimed," Belichick responded. He added that Bojorquez possesses "a big leg" and does a good job punting with short fields, what's known in pigskin parlance as plus-50 punting.