FOXBORO, Mass. — Four New England Patriots players were missing from Wednesday’s frigid practice outside Gillette Stadium.
Quarterback Tom Brady, defensive tackle Alan Branch and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee were not spotted during the portion of practice that was open to the media.
Brady sat out several Wednesday practices earlier in the year but had participated in every session over the previous two weeks and was not listed on the Patriots’ injury report in the days leading up to Sunday’s 37-16 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Burkhead and Branch both missed that game with knee injuries that likely will sideline them until the playoffs.
Gillislee, meanwhile, played Sunday for the first time since Oct. 29, ending a streak of six consecutive weeks on the inactive list. He carried the ball six times for 28 yards and a touchdown and caught one pass for 15 yards in the victory over his former team. The reason for his absence Wednesday was unclear.
The Patriots had two new arrivals at practice: former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who signed with the team Tuesday, and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who practiced for the first time since being placed on injured reserve in September. Mitchell can be activated at any time.
Harrison will wear No. 92 for the Patriots, the same number he’s worn throughout his NFL career. Defensive end Geneo Grissom switched to No. 96.
Temperatures in Foxboro hovered around 20 degrees at the start of practice. The Patriots and New York Jets likely will need to endure even colder conditions in this weekend’s regular-season finale, as the forecast for Sunday calls for a high of 14 degrees and a low of negative-3.
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