Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots Nick McDonald back at practice

The New England Patriots are slowly returning to health outside of recent, terrible injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, and the increasing health of the players in the trenches has been especially encouraging. Nick McDonald has returned to practice today after not practicing on Thursday or participating in the walkthrough Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

The versatile offensive lineman replaced Dan Connolly early in the first quarter, but Connolly is also back to form. Logan Mankins and Chandler Jones are almost fully expected to suit up on Monday night against the Houston Texans, so the offensive line is finally back to where it should be health-wise. The only question is whether or not Sebastian Vollmer’s status has improved, and that is a huge question indeed.

A surprise inactive on Thanksgiving, Vollmer was a game-time decision on Sunday and looked completely out of sorts against top pass rusher Cameron Wake. He was awful in both pass and run blocking, which was definitely a 180 from what we have seen all season for the NFL’s top right tackle. Let’s hope his health as immensely improved, because J.J. Watt and the Texans pass rush make for an even tougher matchup than Wake and the ‘Fins.

Rob Gronkowski was the only player not at practice.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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