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Same 4 players not spotted at Patriots practice; Austin Collie returns

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff  January 2, 2014 11:34 AM

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The Patriots held practice inside a snowy Gillette Stadium Thursday. (Jonathan Wiggs photo)



FOXBOROUGH – Practicing in an empty Gillette Stadium with snow starting to fall steadily, the Patriots were missing the same four players as Wednesday's workout. Not spotted on Thursday were offensive lineman Logan Mankins, receivers Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.

Mankins briefly left Sunday's game with an ankle injury, while Dobson was forced out with a foot injury. Boyce (ankle) missed the last two games, while Dennard (knee/shoulder) sat out the regular-season finale. With no game this weekend, the Patriots might be giving those four injured players time to focus on getting healthy.

Or they could be putting one of them on season-ending injured reserve, which would free up a roster spot. Receiver Austin Collie, who was released on Dec. 27, is back at practice, and reportedly has been re-signed. Collie has played in seven games for the Patriots this season, catching six passes.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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