FOXBORO, Mass. — There are no surprises on the New England Patriots’ attendance report for Thursday.
Running back Rex Burkhead and defensive tackle Alan Branch were the only players absent from the Patriots’ latest practice, which was held on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.
Neither Burkhead nor Branch is expected to play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, as both are dealing with knee injuries that likely will sideline them for multiple weeks. Branch already missed this past Sunday’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Burkhead left that game early.
Both players sat out Wednesday’s practice, as well.
The Patriots have two games remaining on their regular-season schedule: one on Christmas Eve against the Bills and another on New Year’s Eve against the New York Jets. Both will be played at Gillette Stadium.
New England, which clinched its ninth consecutive AFC East championship this past weekend, can secure a first-round bye with a win Sunday and either a Steelers loss or a Jacksonville Jaguars loss/tie. If the Patriots win and both of those teams lose, New England would clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.