Rex Burkhead returns to New England Patriots practice, Trent Brown absent again

Rex Burkhead made his return to the New England Patriots' practice field Thursday, suiting up for the first time since being placed on injured reserve September 26. The Pats now have 21 days to activate the running back or place him back on the injured reserve. The soonest Burkhead can play is December 2 against Minnesota, when he'll have missed the required eight games for a player looking to come off IR.

New England has now used their two injured reserve return spots on Burkhead and rookie cornerback Duke Dawson.

When Burkhead went on IR it was assumed he would be able to return, so this isn't huge news, but it is good news for the running back position.

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He rushed for 64 yards in Week 1, 22 yards in Week 2 and in Week 3, received two passes before incurring the injury. Last year, the Patriots brought Malcolm Mitchell back to practice after he too was placed on the injured reserve. No other Patriot now on IR - including linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley and cornerback Eric Rowe - will be available for the rest of the season.

In other news from Thursday's practice, starting left tackle Trent Brown was not spotted after missing Wednesday's session with an illness.

Of course, just because these two players are practicing now doesn't necessarily mean they'll be re-activated to the 53-man roster, but it is an encouraging sign. He replaced safety David Jones.

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