FOXBORO -- Alfonzo Dennard could be seen in between practice periods on Wednesday joking with his fellow defensive backs as they went from one drill to the next.
The third-year corner was in full pads for the second consecutive day, and while he didn't participate in some of the Patriots' full-contact drills, he was just happy to be out on a field and closer to the action.
Since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Dennard has been rehabbing with a host of other injured Patriots. Until Tuesday, when he was activated off the PUP list, he had missed every practice including those during OTAs and minicamp.
"It's been very tough because I just want to go out there and compete with my teammates," Dennard said. "And just learn from the older guys and just go out there and compete, you know? Just taking it one day at a time. Feeling better and better everyday. Feeling good."
From March 1 through early April, Dennard served 35 days (of a possible 60) in a Nebraska jail for felony assault and violating his probation.
Asked what he had learned from his off-the field incidents and subsequent punishment, Dennard's reply was brief.
"I'm here right now," he said. "That's all that matters. Just all about football right now."
Pressed on the issue later in his first meeting with the media this year -- his first since serving his sentence -- Dennard didn't have much to add.
"Moving forward," he said. "All about football now. Trying to provide for my family."
If healthy, Dennard could start opposite Darrelle Revis when the regular season opens in September. He'll be challenged by second-year corner Logan Ryan, who led the Patriots in interceptions as a rookie with five.
Veteran free-agent signing Brandon Browner won't be eligible to start early in the season since he'll be suspended for the team's first four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.