Dont’a Hightower was back on the practice field Thursday — a positive sign for the New England Patriots linebacker as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle that ended his 2017 season.

Thursday’s organized team activities session was closed to the media, but Hightower could be seen in several practice photos that were posted on the Patriots’ official website.

Hightower missed the Patriots’ final 12 games last season, including playoffs. He was one of 10 players absent from Tuesday’s open practice, along with quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Cody Hollister, defensive end Trey Flowers, guard Joe Thuney, cornerback Jonathan Jones, safety David Jones and running back Brandon Bolden.

Of the Patriots players who finished last season on injured reserve, all but Jonathan Jones have been spotted at at least one of the team’s three OTAs sessions, though many have practiced in a limited capacity. (It’s possible Jones attended one of the two closed practices and did not appear in any team-released photos.)

Among those returning from season-ending injuries are Hightower, Mitchell (who was present Monday), wide receiver Julian Edelman, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, defensive end Derek Rivers, linebacker Harvey Langi, defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, safety Nate Ebner and cornerback Cyrus Jones.

Patriots newcomers Jordan Matthews, Trent Brown and Jeremy Hill also ended last season on IR. All three attended Tuesday’s practice, and Matthews and Hill appeared to be full participants.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images