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Report: Key Players Return to Practice in Preparation for Playoffs

Photo Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Reinforcements seem to be on the way for this squad as the New England Patriots saw running back Rex Burkhead and defensive tackle Alan Branch returned to practice this week.

NESN reporter Zack Cox tweeted a photo of the Patriots at work inside the stadium with players including the two previously mentioned warming up.

Both players suffered knee injuries in Weeks 14 and 15 with Burkhead missing two games and Branch missing three.

The good news didn’t stop there as wide receivers Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell were seen practicing at full speed running through drills with the other healthy receivers.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told NESN.com that he as well as the team was happy to have Mitchell back on the field but he’s still remaining cautious taking it one day at a time.

“It was good to have him out there,” McDaniels said. “Not sure what that will lead to, as with every player coming back from some type of an injury or rehab. You’ve just got to let it take its course and do the best you can working with him, and then if and when that time comes when he’s ready and can help us and can contribute, I’m sure that that will happen. But right now, it’s just good to have him out there and good for him to be there and be coached and work with his guys.”

The team is biding their time with their young receiver as he does not have to be activated to the 53-man roster until the day before their first playoff game.

The Patriots are using the bye week to prepare to face their three potential divisional playoff opponents the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, or Kansas City Chiefs which kicks off on January 13 at 8:15 p.m.

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