While the New England Patriots are still missing a few key players in practice on Thursday, two key offensive linemen who were absent in Wednesday’s practice to start the week were able to practice today. The starting right side of the line is back, as Sebastian Vollmer and Dan Connolly have returned.
Vollmer has been the best right tackle in the NFL this season and one of the most valuable players on the Patriots this year, so his return is definitely huge. The Pats will be facing an elite Miami Dolphins pass rush on Sunday that features the destructive Cameron Wake, so they cannot afford another surprise inactive listing for Vollmer this week. Second-year right tackle Marcus Cannon filled in admirably for Vollmer last week against the New York Jets, but the Dolphins pass rush is clearly better than New York’s.
Dan Connolly has been dealing with some injuries throughout this year, and he is listed on the injury report with a back injury after being pulled in the fourth quarter last week.
Rob Gronkowski is still not practicing.
Mark Zusevics, Logan Mankins, and Chandler Jones were unable to practice for the second straight day, which is terrible news for the Pats. Zusevics is out with an illness, but the real concern is the continued absence of top pass rusher Chandler Jones. The star rookie’s return is even more important now that Jermaine Cunningham has been suspended.
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