FOXBOROUGH -- Defensive lineman Ron Brace and linebacker Derrick Burgess both officially returned to practice this afternoon, joining the Patriots for the afternoon practice session.
It was the first practice for both players since training camp began July 29. Brace was not participating with the team because he failed the conditioning part of his physical before training camp. He has been in camp but mostly by doing individual work along the sidelines, while his teammates practiced.
Burgess said after practice he has not been at camp due to a "personal matter" and not because he was contemplating retirement. He passed his physical on Friday and was ready for practice today.
Highlights from this afternoon's session included:
*No tape on Tom Brady's fingers this afternoon. He threw a few passes and didn't appear to have any problems with accuracy.
*In the crowd favorite barrel drill, QB Brian Hoyer floated two passes into the can. One from about 30 yards away to the right corner of the goal line. Another from about 15 yards away to left corner of the end zone.
*Later in 11-on-11 work, Hoyer had to scramble as he was pinned inside the 10-yard line and forced a pass that was intercepted by Darius Butler.
*Hoyer came back later to fire a pass to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone, as he reached over James Sanders for a touchdown. Hoyer also fired a nice pass deep to the right corner end zone and Taylor Price leaped between two defenders to haul in the pass.
*Players missing today included Jermaine Cunningham, Damione Lewis, Nick Kaczur, Logan Mankins and Bret Lockett. Players not in pads were Leigh Bodden, Matthew Slater, Dane Fletcher, George Bussey, Terrence Johnson and Gary Guyton.