Familiar Faces Return To Patriots’ Practice Field
As the New England Patriots prepare for their week seven match up with the New York Jets, some key members of their 2014 Super Bowl team have found their way back to the practice field.
Wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who had off season foot surgery this year, and center Bryan Stork, who has been suffering from concussion and neck issues since the preseason, both participated in today's practice, according to NESN's Doug Kyed.
LaFell's foot injury landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season which means he was ineligible to return to the team prior to week six. Being in week seven the team has the ability to bring him back based on his health, which appears to be good as he's back on the field. Now New England will have 21 days to determine whether or not to activate LaFell. Based on his impact last year, as long as he stays healthy, he should be back sooner rather than later. Another nice aspect of having LaFell rejoin the team is that due to his PUP status, he does not count against the 53-man roster while he practices.
As for Stork, he suffered another concussion during camp and was unable to make it back in time for the team's season opener against Pittsburgh. After that, the second year man out of Florida State was placed on the short term Injured Reserve with a designation for return. That means Stork will not be able to return to game action until week nine, though he is eligible to return to practice. Like it is with LaFell, it is a good sign that the lineman is out on the practice field, getting reps with his teammates.
Both players were important pieces of the Super Bowl puzzle last year, as LaFell emerged as the team's deep threat and a strong compliment to top receiver Julian Edelman and Stork stepped in to the starting center role as a rookie and played key snaps throughout the season.
For a team that utilizes so many players on both sides of the ball it will be good to get two talented players with fresh legs back as the second half of the season draws closer.
It will be interesting to see what the team does when the two return, however. Undrafted rookie David Andrews has filled in nicely in Stork's absence and has been the only offensive player on the field for every snap this season. Stork's reemergence could cost a young, talented player a roster spot.
Recently acquired Keshawn Martin, who has taken over as the team's deep threat in the past few weeks, has looked good in the teams last couple of games. LaFell's return might finally spell the end for unreliable former second round pick Aaron Dobson, who has been unable to carve out a niche with this team.
The team also announced the signing of fullback Joey Iosefa to their practice squad, today. Iosefa was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round this year, out of Hawaii. The move could be a precautionary one by the Pats, as they add depth to a position with none after James Develin broke his leg in the preseason.