FOXBORO -- Surprisingly, injured cornerback Devin McCourty returned to Patriots practice on Saturday, after missing the entire week with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Sunday night's win over the New York Jets.
The practice was a "sweats and shells" session, and while the media was only allowed to watch the opening minutes, it's unknown as to how much contact McCourty made.
If the reports are true that McCourty separated his shoulder on Sunday, it may be unrealistic to think that he'd be able to make a complete return this soon.
If he's not available for Monday night's game at Gillette Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs, then the Patriots know it's just another opportunity for someone else to step up and make a name for themselves.
"Like it's been all year, guys have to seize the opportunity," said Patriots safety James Ihedigbo on Saturday. "McCourty's a phenomenal player, and whatever the case is -- I can't speak for someone else -- but if he's up, if he's playing, he's going to be flying around and making plays. If a guy has to step up, then a guy has to step up. That's how it is in this league."
Regardless of how ready McCourty may or may not be, just seeing him back on the field so soon on Saturday, was motivating to the rest of the team, who may also be a little banged up.
"This time of year, it's all about continuing to fight," said Ihedigbo. "Everyone in the league is battling something this time of year. So you really look up to guys who can fight through certain injuries or whatever it may be, to be on the field playing. So definitely, you have to look up to those guys and say, 'You know what, I've got to pick it up even more, when a guy like that's battling.'"