FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes returned to practice Thursday after a long layoff due to a right knee injury that he suffered against the Giants in Week 9.
Spikes' only other appearance at practice occurred Nov. 30 during a walkthrough, but he was wearing a heavy winter jacket while standing on the sideline. He was listed as a limited participant for that session.
The Patriots were in sweats and shells, so this was the first time Spikes had participated in a non-walkthrough practice in five weeks. It appeared as though Spikes was wearing a light knee brace under his sock and sweats.
Running back Stevan Ridley (not injury related) missed his second straight practice. He tweeted this week that he flew home to Louisiana and would return Thursday, but there hasn't been any other word from the team.
Tackle Sebastian Vollmer (foot, back) was also absent and hasn't practiced since injuring his foot Nov. 27 against the Eagles.
Wide receiver Wes Welker, who was wearing a soft cast over his right wrist Thursday, was throwing the ball with his right hand without any extra attention toward the wrist. Welker was wearing long sleeves and gloves, so it wasn't clear if he was wearing the cast at practice.
Linebacker Dane Fletcher returned to practice last week after missing six weeks with a thumb injury, and he still has a hard cast covering his right hand and thumb.