Patriots notebook: Burkhead at practice, eligible for return

He was cut earlier in the week, but has returned to the practice squad.

According to those in attendance, running back Rex Burkhead, who is now on injured reserve, was present. 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. However, he was considered by many analysts (including us at PFW/ to be a candidate for one of New England's two "designated to return" spots on the IR list.

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.

Burkhead rushed 24 times for 86 yards and caught 3 passes (6 targets) for 31 yards before landing on IR.

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Of course, this doesn't guarantee that Burkhead or Dawson will play this season.

A year ago the Patriots brought Malcolm Mitchell back to practice after he too was placed on the injured reserve, but subsequently returned to the IR. After practicing, however, Mitchell didn't return and subsequently returned to the injured reserve. Everyone else on injured reserve from here on out is done for the season, including cornerback Eric Rowe and rookie linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley. The only player missing from the session was Trent Brown, who is the latest player to come down with the injury bug going around the locker room. Limited for the Patriots was Joe Cardona (shoulder), Julian Edelman (ankle), Rob Gronkowski (ankle/back), Dont'a Hightower (knee), Jacob Hollister (hamstring), Shaq Mason (calf), Sony Michel (knee), Cordarrelle Patterson (neck) and John Simon (shoulder).

Offensive tackle Cole Croston was back on the field. However, his practice appearance Thursday started the clock on a 21-day period during which New England must make a decision on whether it will bring the running back to its 53-man roster, release him or keep him sideline. He replaced safety David Jones.

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