FOXBORO, Mass. — Linebacker Brandon Spikes was a surprising absentee from the Patriots' practice Thursday on the Gillette Stadium game field.
Spikes, who has missed the last six games with a knee injury, had participated in all seven of the team's practices since Dec. 8. The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells, and it was the final non-walkthrough of the week in anticipation of Saturday's home game against the Dolphins.
Tight end Aaron Hernandez (not injury related) and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness) returned to practice after missing Wednesday's session.
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (foot, back) still hasn't participated since the start of Week 13, and he figures to miss his fourth consecutive game and his ninth of the season.
With the short week, the Patriots didn't practice in full pads. They'll be able to participate in full pads once next week if they choose.