FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ starting defense received a boost during the team’s month off for summer vacation.

Linebackers Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins and defensive end Chandler Jones practiced Thursday during the Patriots’ first training camp session after missing all or most of organized team activities and minicamp in the spring. Mayo, Hightower and Jones appeared limited in their return to practice, though players weren’t wearing numbers, which made taking notes at practice difficult.

Quarterback Matt Flynn, wide receiver Matthew Slater, running back LeGarrette Blount, linebacker Dane Fletcher, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell and defensive linemen Vince Taylor, Alan Branch and Dominique Easley were present for practice but didn’t participate.

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell and defensive lineman Chris Jones¬†weren’t spotted.

Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga, tight end A.J. Derby and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer also returned to the field after missing OTAs and minicamp.

Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images