Wes Welker Misses Tuesday’s Practice, Brandon Spikes Returns to Field for Patriots

Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker missed Tuesday's practice with a neck injury he suffered Saturday against the Lions. Welker has been telling his teammates that he feels fine, but he still has to wait for the medical staff to clear him before returning to the field.

The New England defense continued to get healthier Tuesday, as linebacker Brandon Spikes, defensive lineman Mike Wright and linebacker Dane Fletcher all returned to practice, according to reports. Spikes (ankle) and Wright (unknown injury) had not practiced since Aug. 4, while Fletcher had been out of action since injuring his right thumb Aug. 18 against the Buccaneers.

Right guard Dan Connolly, who injured his ankle Saturday against the Lions, also missed practice. The other absentees were wide receiver Taylor Price, cornerback Leigh Bodden, running back Stevan Ridley, running back Kevin Faulk, running back Eric Kettani, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell, linebacker Jermaine Cunningham and defensive lineman Ron Brace.

Prior to practice, the Patriots released linebacker Marques Murrell and wide receiver Jeremy Ross. Neither transaction was surprising.

The Patriots also officially signed long snapper James Dearth to replace Matt Katula, who was released Monday.

Tuesday marked the Patriots' long practice in preparation for Thursday's preseason finale against the Giants. The Pats will host a closed walkthrough Wednesday.

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