Vollmer, Connolly return to Patriots practice

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Vollmer, Connolly return to Patriots practice

FOXBORO -- New England's banged-up offensive line saw two of its injured starters return to practice on Thursday.

Both tackle Sebastian Vollmer and guard Dan Connolly were back on the grass practice field at Gillette Stadium during the media portion of Thursday's session. Vollmer (backknee) and Connolly (back) missed Wednesday's practice.

Missing from Thursday's practice were tight end Rob Gronkowski, guard Logan Mankins, defensive end Chandler Jones and and tackle Markus Zusevics.

Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran reported on Wednesday that Jones would likely miss Sunday's game in Miami with an ankle injury.

Players wore shells and shorts (or sweatpants) on a sunny but chilly day at Gillette where temperatures hung near the upper 30-degree range.

McAdam: Ridiculous to think Bradley's streak ended because he hit leadoff

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McAdam: Ridiculous to think Bradley's streak ended because he hit leadoff

BOSTON -- If you think John Farrell's decision to hit Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff for one night is the reason Bradley's 29-game hit streak came to an end, I've got some swamp land you might be interested in buying.

Such silly talk first surfaced mid-afternoon when the lineup was announced. With Mookie Betts getting his first day off this season, somebody had to hit leadoff. Farrell went with the guy who was leading the league in hitting.

That sounds reasonable. But not to some, who cried that putting Bradley at the top was (take your pick) disrupting Bradley's routine, putting him in a place with which he wasn't familiar, or asking him to change his approach.

Of course, none of those made much sense.

First of all, Thursday night marked the sixth (SIXTH!) different spot that Bradley has hit during the hitting streak. He had hit second, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth. So the notion that any change was disruptive was absurd.

As for the notion that Bradley would treat his at-bats differently because he was leading off? Also wrong. Bradley's major adjustment since spring training has been being aggressive early in the count. So, do you know how many pitches Bradley saw in four at-bats as the leadoff hitter? Eight.

Does that sound like someone who was being forced to be more patient for the night, or someone changing their approach by working the count more?

Finally, Bradley hit two balls on the screws -- one to the warning track in right, just in front of the bullpen in his first at-bat and another in front of the center field door, some 400 or so feet away, in his third.

Streaks come to an end, even when hitters belt the ball hard. Twice.