FOXBORO, Mass. — A rundown of assorted notes and nuggets from a news-filled New England Patriots practice on Wednesday:
— With moderate rain in the area, the Patriots moved practice inside the Socios.com Field House. Head coach Bill Belichick described it as a walkthrough, with players wearing helmets and sweats.
— Quarterback Mac Jones was present at practice and appeared to up his participation level, though he still walked with a noticeable limp.
Jones is recovering from a high ankle sprain suffered late in the Patriots’ Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and he did suit up for Sunday’s overtime defeat in Green Bay. His status for this Sunday’s home matchup with the Detroit Lions remains unclear, but a report Wednesday from ESPN’s Dan Graziano indicated he’s “unlikely” to play.
The Patriots’ quarterbacks Wednesday were Jones, rookie Bailey Zappe and newly-signed practice squadder Garrett Gilbert, who’s back after spending most of last season on New England’s P-squad. Brian Hoyer, who suffered a concussion against the Packers, was not present during the open media portion of practice.
If Jones and Hoyer both are unavailable this weekend, Zappe would be in line to make his first NFL start. The Western Kentucky product completed 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards with a lost fumble Sunday in his pro debut, nearly piloting the underdog Patriots to what would have been a shocking road upset.
— Rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton practiced for the first time since fracturing his collarbone in Week 2 of the preseason.
This should start the clock on Thornton’s return from injured reserve. The Patriots will have 21 days to add him to their 53-man roster before he reverts to IR and is lost for the season.
— In addition to Hoyer, tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) also was absent from practice.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on Wednesday reported Smith is “week to week” with a low ankle sprain, casting doubt on his availability for Sunday. The Patriots have been operating with just two tight ends on their 53-man roster (Smith and Hunter Henry), plus receiver/tight end hybrid Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Practice squadder Matt Sokol would be a strong candidate for a gameday elevation if Smith is ruled out.
— Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy returned to practice after missing all of last week and the Packers game with a shoulder injury. The Patriots surely are hoping to have him back this Sunday against a Lions team that leads the NFL in yards per carry.
Practice squad linebacker Cameron McGrone also practiced for the first time since the start of the regular season. P-squad D-lineman LaBryan Ray remained sidelined.
— Linebacker Jamie Collins, back for his fourth stint with the Patriots, debuted at practice in his new No. 99 jersey. New England signed the 32-year-old to the practice squad Monday after watching its linebackers struggle against Baltimore and Green Bay.
— An unidentified offensive lineman debuted at practice wearing No. 68. It was unclear whether that player was part of the 53-man roster or practice squad. The Patriots entered Wednesday with one open roster spot and no practice squad vacancies.
— The Patriots practiced in their gorgeous Pat Patriot helmets in anticipation of the long-awaited return of their red throwback uniforms, which they’ll wear for the first time in a decade this Sunday.