The New England Patriots will return to the Gillette Stadium turf this Sunday night after enjoying a nice weekend of rest and relaxation. It remains to be seen whether No. 33 will take the field with them.
Patriots running back Dion Lewis returned to practice Thursday, Oct. 27, but he was inactive for New England’s Week 8 win over the Buffalo Bills three days later. Lewis is expected to be present Tuesday when the Patriots resume practice following their bye week, and he would be eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks if the team deems him healthy enough to do so.
“It?s great to have Dion around,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “Dion works extremely hard at anything he?s doing, whether it was his rehab, his preparation for the opponent, periods in practice, whatever it might be, his role in the game plan. Dion does a great job of preparing hard. He comes here ready to work each day. He puts in a full day and really cares about doing things the right way.
“I?m always excited to have any of our guys back out there on the field with us. It?s the thing that we enjoy doing with them the most, working with them on the field. It?s been nice to have him out there, and we look forward to his progression here as he works back into it.”
Lewis, who hasn’t played since tearing his ACL last November, remains on the physically unable to perform list. The Patriots must add him to the 53-man roster by next Thursday if they want him to suit up at all this season, but even once he’s activated, the coaching staff can choose to sit him for as long as it wishes.
McDaniels didn’t give any indication of when he expects Lewis to make his season debut.
“I think our philosophy on that hasn?t really changed,” McDaniels said. “I think when (Patriots head coach Bill Belichick) and the medical people tell us it?s appropriate to put a player into certain (practice) periods, whatever those might be, whether that?s individual, team, 7-on-7, whatever it might end up being, then you try to do that based on the schedule that they tell you. And then you let the player give us feedback on how he?s feeling, and we?ll go from there.
“We always try to do the right thing for the player. The most important thing to us is the health of our guys and making sure that they?re ready. We?re going to do the right thing in that situation, and whenever it?s time, it?s time.”
Even with Lewis sidelined, the Patriots entered Monday ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (116.4) and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (10). LeGarrette Blount has carried the load in Lewis’ absence, rumbling for 609 rushing yards (ninth in the league) and nine touchdowns (tied for first) through eight games.
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