Patriots: Amendola, Collins and Hightower All Return to Practice


Injuries have not been kind to the New England Patriots this season. However, recent practice reports suggest they may be getting some key players back.

Simply put, the New England Patriots have had incredibly bad luck with injuries this season. They have been able to battle through with an AFC-best 10-1 record, but the injuries have certainly limited their ability on the field. Running back Dion Lewis and left tackle Nate Solder are out for the season, and wide receiver Julian Edelman will not be back anytime soon.

However, the Patriots might be getting back some key players as soon as this week. Practice reports for Wednesday are out, and there are some encouraging signs for New England.

According to Doug Kyed of NESN, wide receiver Danny Amendola, who missed last week against the Denver Broncos practice with the team on Wednesday. Joining Amendola in his return to practice were Patriots’ star linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. Collins has missed the last three games with an undisclosed illness, and his return this week was relatively expected.

Hightower suffered a knee injury last week against the Denver Broncos, and was originally expected to miss a few weeks. His presence at practice is far and away the most surprising.

Let’s start with Amendola. Being the primary replacement in the slot after Edelman went down, Amendola proved to be a hugely reliable target for the Patriots. Edelman is probably the best slot receiver in the league, but the Patriots’ offense barely missed a beat when Amendola stepped up to a larger role.

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He injured his knee two weeks ago, and despite escaping major injury and practicing a bit, sat out last week against the Broncos. Amendola’s return to the field this week against the Philadelphia Eagles is starting to look likely. His return is much need for Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.

As I mentioned earlier, Collins has missed the last three game with an illness. He returned to the team last week, but the Patriots sat him out once again. Reports earlier in the week surrounding Collins were positive, and his presence on the practice field makes me think he is likely to play this week. Collins is one of the best linebackers in the NFL, and the Patriots’ defense needs him on the field.

Hightower’s return is not only the most surprising, but his status for this week is undoubtedly the toughest to judge. Hightower is also one of the premier linebackers in the NFL, and one of the clear leaders of the defense.

His knee injury does not appear to be serious, but missing a few weeks would have been perfectly normal. I am surprised to see Hightower return to the practice field right away, but I do not believe it means he will necessarily suit up for the Patriots this week. Hightower is likely going to be listed as Questionable throughout the week, and will probably be a true game-time decision.

Whether Hightower plays or not, it is certainly a good sign that he is back on the practice field.

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Tight end Rob Gronkowski was among the notable players who missed practice on Wednesday, but that was to be expected. Gronkowski is unlikely to play this week, and the Patriots may hold him back for a few weeks, allowing proper recovery from his strained knee.

Defensive lineman Dominique Easley and cornerback Justin Coleman were among the others who did not participate in practice. The status on Easley is unknown, as he has not appeared to suffer an injury. Coleman continues to deal with his hand injury.