FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots first-round draft pick Dominique Easley made a surprise appearance during the team’s Thursday walk-through with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Patriots have eased the rookie defensive tackle back onto the field from a torn ACL, but his appearance in the walk-through suggests Easley could make his preseason debut soon — as early as Friday night against the Eagles. Easley has participated in full-contact 1-on-1 drills, but he has been held out of 11-on-11 team drills.
It still would be a surprise to see Easley play Friday night, but the walk-through appearance has raised the possibility. A walk-through is designed to get players ready for an upcoming game.
Check out the rest of NESN.com’s observations from Thursday’s practice:
— Jerel Worthy and Ben Bass, the Patriots’ new defensive tackles, made brief appearances on the practice field before disappearing into the Dana-Farber Field House practice bubble. Worthy’s appearance suggests he passed his physical with the Patriots and that the trade with the Green Bay Packers is official. Worthy has a back injury that has kept him out of training camp, and Bass is dealing with a hamstring injury.
— The Patriots were practicing a lot of dime defense during Thursday’s walk-through. We could see some interesting combinations when the Patriots have six defensive backs on the field.
— James Develin and Steve Maneri received a ton of reps Thursday after the Patriots released tight end Ben Hartsock in the morning. The Patriots are running very low at the position as Michael Hoomanawanui, D.J. Williams and Rob Gronkowski recover from injuries.
— The Patriots showed a new wrinkle in last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Redskins when running back James White and Shane Vereen were on the field at the same time. The Patriots showed a similar look in Thursday’s walk-through, and it could be a good way to get both pass-catching backs on the field at the same time. White has impressed everyone this summer, including coaches and teammates, and the Patriots will look to find him snaps in one form or another.
— Jerod Mayo’s absence from the last three practices will open opportunities for Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins to see plenty of action Friday night. Veteran James Anderson also has been absent from practice, which means more snaps for Steve Beauharnais and Darius Fleming.