BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots won’t play until next Saturday, but they hit the practice field to begin preparation for their AFC Divisional Playoff game on Wednesday.

The team hit the lower fields of Gillette in sweats and shells on a frigid New Year’s Day, one of three practices they’ll have before getting the weekend off.

Safety Devin McCourty returned to the field after missing all of last week with a concussion he suffered in Week 16, but that’s about it from the good news department. Four players were not spotted at the practice session; left guard Logan Mankins, wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce, and corner Alfonzo Dennard.

Mankins will likely miss more practice time after suffering an ankle injury in Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills. The Pro Bowler missed just one series after suffering the injury in the second quarter, but did not finish the game and a walking boot was seen next to his locker earlier this week — according to reports.

Dobson re-injured a stress fracture in his left foot during the first quarter on Sunday and did not return. He missed three games in December with the injury, so he’ll be a player to watch over the next week-and-a-half.

Boyce has been out since injuring his ankle in Week 15 against the Dolphins, and has yet to hit the practice field.

Dennard sat out of Sunday’s regular-season finale with a knee injury.

The Patriots will practice again on Thursday and Friday before getting the weekend off, and return to practice next Tuesday.


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